Lucas Gusher at Spindletop, near Beaumont, East Texas, in 1901:
Oil blew 150 feet into the air at a rate of 100,000 gallons a day for nine days, until the oil was controlled. And this stuff was not collecting in a catch basin.
Oil has created wealth. John D. Rockefeller might have been a miserly old dude with monopolistic tendencies, but his oil empire also developed the wealth that has powered the Rockefeller Foundation and its manifold good deeds over the years. To take one example, the biomedical research facility founded by John D., Jr. that would become Rockefeller University has developed a cure for meningitis, made tremendous advances in public health, discovered ways to preserve whole blood and pioneered cell biology, among many other important achievements.
Oil has brought with it important technological developments. Mechanization through means other than steam or water power has been a ticket to prosperity in far-flung regions and allowed us to transport goods over wide distances. (It also brought us suburbs, but that's another story.)
Still: what a dirty, dirty way to run the world. Here's hoping we can find something better. Soon.