Page 2–The GeoRecord Vol 9.1

Winter 2003

From the Director

by Lee Allison,

Director and State Geologist


The KGS is pioneering key elements of the geoinformatics system through a variety of projects

The first report of the State Energy Resources Coordination Council, issued at the beginning of the legislative session in January, dropped a bombshell in lawmakers’ laps. After nearly a century as one of the nation’s leading energy exporters, Kansas is now a net energy importer, the Council reported. Kansas’s net energy balance is expected to worsen for the foreseeable future, with serious implications for the state’s economic well being.

Fossil energy fueled the Kansas economy and provided substantial exports to other states for much of the 20th century. About 20 years ago, the state’s energy production and consumption were roughly in balance, as oil, gas, and coal production declined; oil refineries were closed; and increasing amounts of coal for electrical generation and gasoline for transportation were imported. Since 1997, the net energy balance has shifted strongly to the negative side. By 2007, we estimate that the state’s net imports will be 650 trillion Btu a year, and Kansans could spend more than $2.5 billion per year to import energy into the state.

Changing this trend will require extending the life of the state’s oil and gas fields, increasing conservation and efficiency, and developing new sources of energy, of which the most promising in the near term appear to be ethanol, wind energy, and coalbed methane.

The KGS is engaged in a range of energy projects. For the past four years, Survey scientists have been creating a virtual three-dimensional map of the giant Hugoton natural gas field in southwest Kansas. The Hugoton field has supplied gas to the Midwest for more than 80 years, but is now in its last stage of productive life. The Survey is working with industry to make a detailed subsurface analysis of the field, in hope of recovering every possible cubic foot of gas.

Another Survey project seeks to demonstrate the use of waste carbon dioxide (CO2) from an ethanol plant in Russell in enhanced oil recovery. Success could lead to millions of barrels of oil being produced from the state’s aging oil fields and extending their productive lives.

Another KGS team is assessing the potential for coalbed methane (natural gas from coal seams) in eastern Kansas. Early drilling results by industry are encouraging but limited. Rapid development of this resource could significantly offset the loss of Hugoton production.

The KU Energy Research Center (ERC) is housed within the Survey and many KGS staff members participate in ERC projects. The ERC hosts the Kansas Energy Information Network web site (, a clearinghouse for statewide energy news. The ERC is also gathering data on Kansas wind energy and co-sponsored the annual wind energy conference for the past three years.

In its first four months of operation, the state energy council produced an influential preliminary state energy plan, an energy abstract volume, and an online energy atlas, making them widely available via the internet. (Survey staff members, especially Liz Brosius and Scott White, were instrumental in compiling and analyzing the data in the council’s reports.) In the coming year, the council will develop strategies to reverse the state’s energy fortunes. The KGS will continue to play its dual roles of supporting the council’s activities and implementing projects to increase the state’s energy production.

Upcoming Events

Spring 2003





March 11, Water and the Future of Kansas 20th Annual Conference—The Challenge of Abundant Clean Water, Manhattan, KS (

March 23–24, Geological Society of America (GSA) North Central Section, 37th Annual Meeting, Kansas City, MO (

March 26–28, Great Plains Foundation 2003 Symposium—Air and Water Resources in the Lives of People on the Great Plains—Past, Present, and Future, Wichita, KS (

April 11, Kansas Association of Conservation and Environmental Education (KACEE) Spring Meeting, Garden City, KS (

April 25–27, Kansas Association of Teachers of Science, KATS Kamp, Rocks Springs 4-H Center, Junction City, KS (

May 3, Geology and Paleontology of Northwestern Kansas—KGS Public Field Trip, Oakley, KS (

May 11–14, American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), Annual Meeting—Energy, Our Monumental Task, Salt Lake City, UT (

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