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Independent Oil Producers Battle Standard Oil in 1904

Transcribed from the Belmont Dispatch, June 10, 1904.


 

OIL WAR IN OLD ALLEGANY

STANDARD OIL TRYING TO CRUSH THE INDEPENDENT PIPE LINES AND REFINERY

Allegany Producers Refuse to Submit to the High-Handed Hold-Up––Every Business Man In This County Is Interested Either Directly Or Indirectly––The Modern Buccaneers With Their Black Flag in Business will be Fought to the Last Ditch

Worth makes the man and want of it the chump;
To win, lay hold, hang on and hump.

Commercial war has been declared in Allegany County. The Standard Oil Trust, well known as the most unscrupulous corporation in the world, is repeating its record for brigandage. The ultimatum has gone out the oil producers of Allegany County cannot pipe and refined their own crude oil. The modern Buccaneers have again raised the black flag in business.

Reconnoitering for the raid began secretly several months ago. Hired spies through the field reported to the Standard the minutest movement of the Independent pipe lines and refinery. The Billionaire Monopoly learned that the citizens, farmers, landowners, business men and oil producers of Allegany County had determined to keep at home some of the comparatively small remaining profits of piping and refining Allegany oil. The flush production of this field was exhausted ten years ago, and only minor strippings are left. The Standard's profits from typing and refining Allegany County oil in the past have been from twenty-five to fifty million dollars. They have kept the price of crude oil at half its real value and filched the Allegany producer for twenty-five years. Now they will crush his righteous ambition for independence and bring financial ruin upon his pipe lines and refinery.

The monstrous effrontery and greed of the Standard is unsurpassed. Rich beyond the dreams of wealth, it wants to prevent anyone else making money in the oil business. The Independent’s fight is for the principle of freedom in business, unconstrained by unscrupulous and illegal competition. It is the oil producers only hope of a future for his business. Crude oil will never bring the price it should till the Independent interest secure a more thorough intrenchment. They are already on a stable basis, with pipe lines for both crude and refined oils from the oil regions to the seaboard at Philadelphia. They have lines of ocean-going tank steamers and distributing stations in Europe. They have a score of good refineries and own thousands of barrels of daily oil production. The fact is they are just beginning to get out of the woods. They are getting too prosperous for the Standard. There must be some horrible example of Independent failure. The tide must be stemmed. Capital must be shown the dangers of Independent oil investment. The Standard’s absolute control of the oil business is slipping away. Last winter the Independent Pure Oil Co. made the oil market on several occasions and the humiliated Standard had to follow. This must be stopped.

The Standard looked over the oil fields and hired men in the employ of the Independent refineries to report their condition. They found at Wellsville, owned by the Allegany producers, an Independent refinery second to none in the world, and supplied with crude oil by its own pipe lines. Here was the best example of ambitious and successful independence. It must be stopped, fair or foul. The Standard has solemnly agreed not to molest it upon condition that it did not increase its use of Allegany crude above a certain amount, which reckoned about one fourth the production of the Allegany field. It was agreed that the hog’s shares should remain with the Standard. But now, the Trust, like the proverbial swine, wants it all. The Allegany producer says no.

About two months ago the skirmish began. There was lying and deception from the start. The Standard appreciated the producers’ natural antipathy to it and concealed its hand. It sent the Vacuum Oil Co. of Olean and Rochester into the Allegany oil field and offered a premium on certain oils of 10 cents a barrel, [claiming that the Vacuum and Standard] were not allied. This was an entirely unnecessary fabrication, as every oil man knew positively to the contrary. Later the cat came to public view, and the Standard’s fangs are now plainly visible.

The Independents never before had so good chance of pulling the poison fangs of the Standard. The Independent refinery at Wellsville and Independent pipe lines supplying it, are splendidly intrenched. Backed, owned and supported by the producers, the Standard cannot materially damage them. The maximum length of time for which the premium is now offered is only one year. Were the premium accepted by the producers who run their oil to the independent lines supplying the Wellsville refinery, it would be paid only long enough to cripple the independent interests so that they would have to compromise with the Standard or suspend operations. The business interest of the producer impel him to refuse to be bought off now with a pittance. The larger future for his business, ultimately guaranteed by the success of the independent oil interests, is his guiding star. A small premium for a brief time will not bribe him to desertion.

 

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