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Most major oil fields that were discovered in the early days of oil and gas exploration were traced from natural hydrocarbon seeps at the surface. The eternal flame of the ancient Zoroastrians was likely one of the multitude of natural gas seeps near modern Baku in the Caspian. Colonel Drake’s first oil well was located near natural oil seeps on the banks of what would be renamed Oil Creek in Pennsylvania. The beginnings of Royal Dutch Shell came from the timely recognition of the significance of the numerous natural oil ponds in Sumatra in 1880. The Spindletop field was discovered by a Sunday school teacher poking his cane into a bubbling gas spring and lighting the flame to the amusement of his young students. The list is long; many of the major fields of California, Oklahoma, Mexico, Iran, Iraq, Indonesia and elsewhere were discovered by surface hydrocarbon seeps.
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