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Construction of Kemper-Satsuma 18” Pipe Line (1950)

Patricia Ann Morrison

Silent | 1950

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  •  A subsidiary of the Houston-based Humble Oil and Refining Company, the Humble Pipe Line Company was the largest transporter of crude oil in the country even before the construction of the Kemper-Satsuma pipeline. By the end of 1949, it operated more than 3,200 miles of gathering lines and 5,700 miles of trunk lines, connecting facilities across Texas and New Mexico. 
  •  Bulldozers clear the right-of-way 
  •  Planting dynamite 
  •  Pipe is welded into double-length sections at the Cherry Springs and Menard pipe yards 
  •  Developing x-rays on the spot 
  •  Cleaning and priming pipe according to Humble specifications 
  •  Construction of the pipeline introduced several technological innovations, such as the use of a special cement coating on the over river crossings to make the pipe lie stationary. 
  •  Opening ceremony in Satsuma on June 13, 1950 
  •  With only the Kemper Station pumping, the line delivered 85,000 barrels of oil a day. 
  •  Home movie footage of a company picnic at the Humble Pipe Line office in McCamey 
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Shot by the Morrison Construction Company for the Humble Pipe Line Company, this industrial film documents the construction of an oil pipeline from Kemper in West Texas to the town of Satsuma, located near Houston. Intertitles throughout detail operations along the line, from planting dynamite to stringing pipe to coating and priming. Construction on the pipeline began on December 12, 1949, and ended on May 28, 1950. Costing $15 million to build, the 375-mile line crossed 16 counties. Prior to the Kemper-Satsuma line, oil had been transported through a system of small lines that grew as new lines were discovered—a method that proved not only inefficient but also increasingly expensive. By constructing a pipeline over a shorter route and with a greater capacity, Humble hoped to reduce operating costs and put itself in a better competitive position among other carriers. The first oil from the Kemper Station arrived in Satsuma for storage during an opening ceremony on June 13. Several Humble Pipe Line Company executives were in attendance, including President R. V. Hanrahan. It reportedly took 576,211 barrels of oil to fill the line. Also included is home movie footage of a company picnic at the Humble Pipe Line office in McCamey.