News Release, Kansas Geological Survey, February 14, 2001
Kansas has historically produced more energy than the state consumed. Preliminary data from the Kansas geological Survey show that Kansas produced about 34 million barrels of oil in 2000, ranking it eighth in the country among oil-producing states. The value of that oil production was slightly less than one billion dollars. The year's production was up slightly from 1999, but down substantially from the 1950s and 1960s, when the state's wells produced more than 100 million barrels of oil per year.
Natural gas production was 560 billion cubic feet in 2000, a slight increase from 1999, but half the annual production in the peak years of the 1970s. The value of Kansas natural gas produced in 2000 was about $2.05 billion.
The demand for natural gas has reduced supplies in storage to their lowest point in decades, said Tim Carr, head of the Survey's petroleum research section. And stocks of natural gas could be even lower by next winter.
"The lack of natural gas in storage could be a real problem if we have a hot summer next year and there's greater demand for electricity from gas-fired electric plants," said Carr. "That's a particularly important issue in Kansas, especially in southwestern Kansas, where we rely a great deal on locally produced natural gas to operate irrigation wells."
Oil and natural gas production has dropped over the decades because many of the state's fields are mature. Low energy prices in the early 1990s discouraged oil and gas exploration and investment in the state, so that today only about 25 drilling rigs are operating in the search for oil and gas, compared to a high of over 200 in the late 1980s.
While Kansas energy production has declined in the past two decades, the state's consumption of energy has increased. As a result, the state now consumes just about as much energy as it produces. Kansas produces more natural gas than it consumes, largely because of the giant Hugoton natural gas field in southwestern Kansas. However, the state imports large amounts of coal from Wyoming for the generation of electricity.
As a result, instead of exporting energy, as the state did in the past, Kansas now faces the possibility of becoming an energy importer. The state can take steps to respond, say researchers.
"New techniques, such as enhanced oil recovery and horizontal drilling can increase production for oil and natural gas fields," said Scott White, an energy analyst at the Survey. "Developing new energy sources, such as wind and biomass, and improving the efficiency with which we use energy, can also have a positive impact. We need to do all of these things."