Producers of oil-based kerosene won out due to superior quality and price. Where whale oil was lighting homes for $3 a gallon in 1860, kerosene was lighting homes for 9 cents a gallon by 1880 — giving millions of Americans the gift of illumination at night.The men and women of the past several generations who have created and sustained the oil-related businesses are true unsung heroes. Celebrating their birthdays, and those of their achievements, is infinitely more important than marking Earth Day or Labor Day.
In the early 20th century, as the electric light bulb outcompeted kerosene, oil producers focused on producing automotive fuel — and beat out steam, ethanol and — the front-runner at the time — electric batteries, through a combination of affordability, safety and convenience.
I live on 5 acres of heavily forested land, surrounded by hundreds of similar plots. But I'm still of the view that there is more beauty in an oil platform than a giant cedar, even though I love both.
In that spirit, I offer tribute to the engineers who envisaged British Petroleum's Thunder Horse, a "$5 billion semi-submersible platform 150 miles southeast of New Orleans. Fifty percent larger than the next largest such rig in the world, it includes more than 100 technical firsts that will enable it to process 250,000 barrels of oil and 200,000 million cubic feet of natural gas per day - enough to supply 6.5 million American homes with energy."
Thank you, David Rainey, Mary Heinking, and all the other unsung heroes in the world. I am forever in your debt.