Our Oil History
By Craig Baird
The oil and gas industry in the Gull Lake region has a special place in my own family history. After all, it was nearly 50 years ago that my grandfather was killed working only a few kilometres south of Gull Lake on a pump jack.
Researching the history of the oil and gas industry in the region, it is interesting to note just how far back it goes and the impact it has had on our small town.
We have to go back about 70 million years to find the source of our oil wealth in this region. There are several geological eras under us but it is the Jurassic Layer where we find all the oil.
Going down roughly one kilometer (1,000 to 1,150 metres), the wells tap into this source of oil and natural gas. All of this was formed by an ancient sea 70 million years ago that helped to create the oil patch zones under us. Every bit of oil that comes out of the ground is eons of animal and plant life that lived and died in that sea.
For the first half of Gull Lake’s history, there was nearly no activity since most in the area were concerned with ranching and farming.
By the mid-1950s, oil activity increased in the area on a limited scale for about ten years. In the issues of the Gull Lake Advance from 1955, the boom of oil was evident in the masthead, which contained oil wells and, in large letters, OIL.
In the mid-1960s, drilling began to increase and by the 1980s there were 400 producing wells in the Gull Lake area. This naturally helped out both the RM of Gull Lake and the Town of Gull Lake. With a broadened tax base, by 1989, 61 per cent of the tax revenue of the area came from oil wells while 39 per cent came from agriculture.
Today, several oil and gas companies operate in the area and the landscape is dotted with pump jacks and drilling crews.
While it may have taken 70 million years for us to utilize the energy under the ground, it has helped Gull Lake progress from its early years into an important energy hub in southwest Saskatchewan today.
Article Compliments of The Gull Lake Advance