News Release, Kansas Geological Survey, Nov. 20, 1998
Natural gas production dropped by about 17 percent.
The drop in oil production is almost certainly related to low prices, said Survey petroleum geologists Timothy Carr and Paul Gerlach.
Kansas oil wells produced just over 15 million barrels of oil from January through May of this year. That compares to about 16.6 million barrels during the same period in 1997, a drop of about 9 percent.
Oil prices, currently under $10 per barrel in Kansas, have been low through most of 1998. And that, says Carr, is part of the reason that the state's oil production is down.
"Drilling of new wells is down and so is the servicing of older wells," said Carr. "That can be attributed to prices, which are historically low."
It is also related to the age of many of the state's oil fields. Kansas is known as a mature oil-producing area, meaning that many of the state's fields were discovered in the 1950s and 1960s, or even earlier, and are now playing out.
According to figures compiled at the Survey, 97 percent of the state's 41,500 oil wells produce an average of less than 10 barrels per day of oil. Such wells are generally referred to as stripper wells. About two-thirds of the state's production comes from stripper wells. The average oil well in the state produces 2.4 barrels of oil per day.
"The production from these older wells declines over time," said Carr. "With low oil prices, there's considerable risk that new technology will not be applied to extracting additional hydrocarbons and that these wells will be plugged and abandoned."
The number of wells that are highly productive, or produce more than 30 barrels of oil per day, dropped from 357 in 1997 to 254 in 1998.
Natural gas production also declined during the same time period. From January to May 1998, natural gas production was 238 billion cubic feet, compared to 288 billion cubic feet during the same period of 1997. That represents a decline of about 17 percent.
"Most of the decline in gas production is related to lessening production from southwestern Kansas," said Carr. "Oil and gas production represent a significant component of the Kansas economy and continued decline could have a significant impact, especially in southwestern Kansas and the rest of western Kansas."