31 August 2014

Oil Drilling in Carbon Canyon's Chino Hills Portion, Part Four

At the close of the 1930s, an oil well was drilled somewhere in the vicinity of either what is now the Western Hills Oaks subdivision or closer to the Mountain View tract off Canon Lane, south of Carbon Canyon Road.

The project was initiated by the John Hokom Oil and Gas Company, Ltd., a firm created by its namesake, a successful plumbing and hearing contractor born to Swedish emigrants (his father's name had been Hokansson] in the town of Galva in west-central Illinois in 1876.  After 1900, Hokom relocated to Los Angeles and opened his business which proved to be quite successful. 

Hokom was an active member of the state Master Plumbers' Association, an organization to promote professional practices in the rapidly-growing industry and served as its president in 1917.  Two years later, a trade journal noted that Hokom was "one of the most successful master plumbers in Los Angeles Cal." and that "at the present he is employing 25 mechanics; business is good and prospects are very bright for it to remain so."  This was especially true as the 1920s proved to be a significant decade for building in the Los Angeles area.

Hokom was in his early 60s  when he formed the John Hokom Oil and Gasoline Company, Limited, based at the Hollywood office of his plumbing and heating business, though it appears that his well in Carbon Canyon might have been his only project.  On 8 June 1939, Hokom filed his "Notice of Intention to Drill New Well" with the state Division of Oil and Gas on a lease of 40 acres.  It was estimated that gas would be found "at a depth of about 3500 feet" as noted on the form and some specifics were given in terms of the size of the casing, strings and so on.

Work began on 15 June as the hole was spudded.  By 11 July, the well was down to 2941 feet, but with nothing evidently found, it was decided the following day "to abandon hole from 2941' to 1395'."  On the 13th, 750 sacks of cement were poured into the hole and following days consisted of raising the plug and filling the hole with more cement and then it was decided to revise the project.

On the 18th, a supplementary proposal was submitted that called for redrilling at around 1300', because, it was stated, drillers "encountered two fairly good looking oil sands from 1110'-1252' and 1293'-1375' with thin shale partings and wet sands in between."  It was proposed to start back at 1295' and run a 7" string down to the 80 feet of the bottom of the lower sands.

By the 19th, the hole was "drilled out to 1298" at which time water testing was done and the well was pumped with 200 barrels of water and 34 grains of chloride per gallon through to 9 August.  It was reported that the hole "showed gas and colors of oil." 

But, in 17 August a well report was submitted to the Division of Oil and Gas that proposed "to circulate the hole full of heavy mud, pull all 7" casing possible, cap the 13" casing at the surface with a vented, welded cap and abandon the location."

A report of February 1940, noted that nearly a month passed before, instead of abandoning the well, Hokom went back, presumably with state permission, and, on the 14th, "put well to pumping at 1197'."  Fresh water was used and there were "slight showings of heavy oil and gas."  Yet, by 20 September, the drillers "pulled and paid town tubing and rods, abandoned hole from 1235'"  Cement was poured in and a plug placed at 1103' along with a vented plug in the casing, so that the "well [is] standing."  This meant that the well was not yet abandoned.

In May, Hokom submitted a letter to the state's Oil and Gas Supervisor, informing the agency that, concerning the bond obtained as insurance for drilling the well, Hokom wished to inform the bonding company, "that we have no further need of the above bond, as the well above mentioned was abandoned and capped in September 1939."  This was, as noted above, not true, as the well was left standing with plugs at a depth far below the surface.

Nearly eight years later, on 1 April 1948, a "Notice of Intention to Abandon Well" was filed with the Division of Oil and Gas, stating that the well was cemented to 1103' and that the proposed work to date and to "shoot and pull all 7" casing possible, place cemt. plug" to 266 feet and then "cap at surface and abandon."

A 26 April "Special Report to Operations Witnessed" from the state noted that work conducted on 18-19 April was for work that included "that the 7" casing was shot at 836' and was pulled from that depth," that "plugging operations were started by dumping cement in the hole on a wooden plug at 272'," and that "18 sacks of cement was [were] dumped in the hole beginning at 272'."  Once the cement plug was verified at 231', the abandonment was considered complete.

However, in mid-July 1948, a new well history was filed, showing that, on the 13th, "4 sacks of cement was [were] dumped on wood plug hanging at 10' placing of plug."  Consequently, this last action allowed the Oil and Gas Division to send a letter to Hokom's agent, informing him that the abandonment of the well was finally completed, nearly nine years after it was supposed to have been.

John Hokom lived for another seventeen years, dying in Los Angeles at 89 years of age in July 1965.

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