Geology Reference
In-Depth Information
rays were beamed to the bottom; obviously before electricity no
other form of lighting could be used without a severe risk of
fire.
Below two hundred feet the amount of gas in the well pre-
vented the digger from remaining there for more than a minute
at a time and between each descent he needed half an hour's
rest to recover from the e┬Čects of the gas. In such conditions
the digger managed about twenty descents a day; progress was
very slow, taking nearly a year to reach three hundred feet, and
the mortality rate from gas poisoning was very high. But with
the introduction of four-gallon tin cans for transporting
kerosene, a crude yet ingenious diver's helmet could be made
from an inverted can placed over the digger's head, connected
to the surface by a rubber hose through which air circulated
from an air pump operated by a member of the digger's family.
With this significant improvement the digger could stay down
the pit for up to an hour and depths of four hundred feet could
be reached. Nevertheless, by the turn of the century production
from a hand dug pit was still only twenty gallons a year.
Although they rapidly became overtaken by mechanical wells,
many hand dug pits were still in operation at the time Holmes
was working for Yomah Oil.
By 1920 oil production in Burma was at its peak and compe-
tition for this liquid gold became quite frenzied. Many of the
smaller companies had prospered during the war, with the
Government paying high prices for whatever oil could be pro-
duced, and they were now in a position to branch out and sink
new wells. But the oil bearing province at Yenangyaung covered
an area of only one and a half square miles, stretched along
a narrow ridge just three miles long and half a mile wide. It was
divided into two oil bearing 'reserves', the Twingon and Beme
reserves, and space was running out. Historically the Twinzayos
had divided up the reserves into circular sites, each of which was
only sixty feet in diameter. As this system continued a conges-
tion of highly inflammable wooden derricks arose, so close to
 
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