KGS Home Educational Resources Petroleum Primer, Continued

Petroleum: a primer for Kansas, Page 14 of 15
Prev Page--Production || Next Page--Glossary


Petroleum is a complex mixture of hydrocarbon molecules derived from organic matter that accumulates with muddy sediments in stagnant environments. After compaction, deep burial, and much time, hydrocarbons are generated from the organic matter and migrate from the source bed into a porous rock that serves as a reservoir for oil and gas. Exploration involves the search for suitable traps, such as anticlines, faults, or permeability pinchouts by constructing a variety of maps from surface rocks, previously drilled wells, and geophysical studies. Suitable conditions for the entrapment of economical petroleum accumulations are widespread in Kansas.

When a potential trap is indicated, mineral rights to the land must be acquired, and a wildcat well is drilled, usually with rotary tools. If reservoir rocks containing shows of hydrocarbons are encountered, the rock is tested to evaluate production potential by conducting a drill-stem test and running geophysical logs. If testing and the well logs indicate that commercial production is possible, casing is cemented in place in the hole, the casing is perforated, and the reservoir rock is treated to commence or improve production. Control and metering devices and storage tanks are installed at the surface; the oil and/or gas is transported to a market by truck or pipeline. If no commercial production is found, the hole is cemented to protect every possible aquifer and plugged. The entire process of land acquisition, drilling, and completion of the well is regulated by the Kansas Corporation Commission to ensure equitable resource management for all parties. Then the process is started anew to develop the field and/or search for other traps.

Established fields experience a natural decline in production rates as the reservoir energy is depleted. Secondary-recovery methods, such as gas and water injection used widely in Kansas, are designed to maintain pressure in the reservoir and force oil to producing wells. Tertiary-recovery techniques, applied on a more limited basis, offer significant opportunities to recover remaining petroleum resources in existing fields.

Prev Page--Production || Next Page--Glossary

Kansas Geological Survey, Education
Placed online April 2001
Comments to
The URL for this page is HTTP://