Graco Resources, Inc. – Natural Resources Advisory Services

Established in 1990

Environmental and natural resources consultant
Mineral lease evaluation and negotiations

100 Years of Graves’ History

Graves Drilling picture

J.W. Graves started drilling wells in the Jefferson County area around 1900, with equipment that he designed and built. He drilled water wells and blast holes for the brickyard in Lovick, Alabama. Other projects included drilling the road cuts through the Narrows when Highway 280 was built during the Great Depression. In 1946, his son (and my Dad), E.L. Graves, formed Graves Well Drilling Co. in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The company moved to Sylacauga in 1950.

In 1959, the company purchased the first heavy-duty air rotary drilling machine in the state and one of the first in the South. The company continued to grow in the domestic well and pump business and began drilling municipal wells in the mid-nineteen sixties. My older brother and I each took non-drilling jobs upon completing college. I worked with the Geological Survey of Alabama, and Steve worked for Humble Oil. We both came back to the business in 1970, but Steve went back to the oil patch in 1972, while I decided to stay with the family business.

My wife, Patsy, and I purchased the company from my parents in 1976 and branched into the energy business. The company began drilling experimental wells to extract methane gas from coal seams for U.S. Steel and other mining clients. This led to the development of a whole new energy source, which ultimately comprised eight per cent of U.S. natural gas reserves. Graves Drilling Company drilled over 1200 shallow gas wells in the Warrior Coal Basin. In 1985, Energen acquired Graves Drilling Company, Inc. and used it as a platform to become the largest coal-bed gas producer in Alabama at that time.

Graves Service Company, Inc., was formed in 1990 and moved to Westover, Alabama, with Don Harvard and Leon DeBardelaben. Leon and I have had the pleasure of working together for over 36 years and Don and I for over 25 years. I think they are getting old!