In 1959, when the first drop of oil sprang from the ground

April 30, 1959. Thursday. An important date for the village of Jazalin. More than sixty years ago. Oil was gushing from the newly installed Batlonge well No. 1 in the forest massif. Thus, after the Parentis-en-Born field, the second Landes field in terms of production importance was discovered. The story.

Today, few Kazals remember those “Western” years as José Paracchini calls them. This lover of the village and its heritage arrived shortly after April 30, 1959. He vividly describes this episode: “If the first half of the 20e In the 120th century, a revolution took place with the establishment and installation of the 120th air base, and the beginning of the second half also brought a revolution with the discovery of black gold,” he explains. “Since then, the “horse-headed” pendulum pumps invaded our forest and even infiltrated the heart of the village. A “warehouse” was installed there, roads were built, electricity and telephone lines were laid. In our village, oil workers settled their families in caravans or mobile homes. About twenty families stayed there for several years, especially around the cafe “Les Chênes”. »

José Paracchini remembers that the residents of that time met with hitherto unknown names: Esso-Rep, Forasol, Flopetrol, Forex, Cossifor… Huge trucks loaded with long metal pipes invaded our territory.

For the author Michel Cluzeau – in his study published a few years later in the Geographical Review of the Pyrenees and the Southwest – this cazaline success was “the greatest achievement of several years of effort carried out by Esso-Rep geologists in 2009. central part.”

He elaborates. “Seismic work started in the Cazaux sector in 1956 made it possible to reveal the stratigraphy and structure suitable for the storage of hydrocarbons. As a result, on March 2, 1959, drilling began at Cazaux: less than two months later, he discovered several oil-impregnated sandstone levels at a depth of 2,264-2,595 meters. »

“A number of other drilling operations conducted in 1959 showed the complexity of the deposit as well as the profitability of its exploitation. Thus, on January 15, 1960, an exploitation request covering an area of ​​48.3 km2 was filed under the dune area covered by Jazalin land, military land and user forest…”

Forty-seven wells were drilled in the Cazaux field from March 1959 to the end of 1965, and the most important work was done in 1960-1962. Cazaux production increased steadily until 1962, reaching 7,500 tons in 1959. Crude oil supplies reached 500,000 tons in 1964 and exceeded 600,000 tons in 1965. “Kazaux became the second largest oil field in France and ranked sixth in the national production balance,” recalls Michel Clouzeau. In the mid-1960s, Cazaux provided as much as all the fields in the Paris Basin (but two and a half times less than Parentis).

André Meneec has worked on all continents. Iraq to Indonesia. Also at Cazaux in the early stages of drilling. Living in the village with his wife, he remembers those “unbelievable moments” when oil gushed from the wells. “Hard and physical” work “less mechanized than today”.

“At that time, holes appeared like mushrooms. At night, they lit up like Christmas trees,” remembers José Paracchini. “The forest resounded day and night with the dull sound of drills and the metallic clang of pipes hanging there. We are used to discovering new professions: meter, driller, fitter… Their work was difficult, we were talking about 3/8. It was sometimes necessary to hire at 4 a.m. and go to the platform in any weather to connect and guide huge metal pipes that were completely frozen. »

The salaries were “attractive,” he recalls. How young Kazalin dreamed of “getting into the oil business”, as the expression was at that time. Some succeeded in realizing their dream, others had a sad experience. »

Finally, Kazalin recalls a particularly significant episode. ” This oil epic had its heyday with the filming of Les Mordus. With Sacha Distel and Danny Patisson. Cazaux and his derricks served as the backdrop for this feature film… Some Cazalins were even invited to act as extras. »

Since 1959, 93 wells have been drilled in the Cazaux concession. In December 2007, the Canadian company Vermilion Rep requested an extension of the validity period of the Cazaux concession for a period of 25 years. The extension was granted by a ministerial decree dated December 23, 2010, thus allowing commercial exploitation of the resource to continue until January 1, 2035.

Thanks to Vermilion, La Teste’s Documentation Service, and the Testers and Casalins who shared their memories.

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