Oil and Gas Production in Kansas
The first marginally productive oil well in Kansas was drilled in 1860 in Miami County. After the Civil War ended in 1865, drilling continued in Eastern Kansas, and the first well to produce commercial quantities of oil was drilled in 1892 near Neodesha in Southern Kansas.
With the discovery of the El Dorado field in Wichita in 1915, Kansas became a viable oil-producing state. In 1922, natural gas was discovered in southwestern Kansas, but it was not until the 1930s that the construction of major pipelines sparked the development of the Hugoton Gas Area, one of the largest natural gas fields in the world. As of 2018, the cumulative production in Kansas was approximately 6.7 billion barrels of oil and 41.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
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Kansas Oil Boom
In 1915, the Mid-Continent oilfield was discovered by Wichita Natural Gas, a subsidiary of Cities Service Company. The initial discovery well revealed the 34-square-mile El Dorado oilfield in central Kansas. From 600 feet, the Stapleton No. 1 well produced 95 barrels of crude oil per day before being deepened to 2,500 feet to produce 110 barrels of oil daily.
The discovery of oil in 1923 in Russell County brought oil activity into West Kansas. Over the next century, over 7,000 oil and gas fields were discovered in Kansas, many along the Central Kansas Uplift that run northwest to southeast across the center of the state. As oil prices have risen and fallen, production in Kansas has gone through boom and bust phases.
Kansas Oil Quick Facts
- In 2021, Kansas produced about 1% of the United States' total oil. Kansas' 3 petroleum refineries provide 2% of U.S. refining capacity and can process approximately 404,000 barrels of crude oil a day.
- Kansas is the 9th-largest ethanol-producing state in the U.S., and its 13 ethanol plants have a combined production capacity of 603 million gallons per calendar year.
- In 2021, wind energy accounted for nearly half of the state's electricity generation, which was the third-highest share of wind power for any U.S. state.
- Conway, Kansas, is a major hydrocarbon gas liquid products storage and pricing hub for propane and ethane.
- Kansas consumes more natural gas than it produces; the state has 16 natural gas underground storage fields which can hold 283 billion cubic feet of natural gas, equal to about 3% of U.S. storage capacity.
5 Injured in Kansas Oil Rig Blast
In December 2016, a Kansas rig explosion left at least 5 workers for Wichita-based contractor Murfin Drilling severely injured. All of the workers were hospitalized, and 2 who were critically injured were airlifted out.
The accident occurred during a drill stem test, as crews were adding pipe on a rig when gas "migrated up" and got onto the deck floor of a warming hut, which held running heaters. Before the incident, Murfin had been cited multiple times by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), according to the Associated Press. One such report included a 2008 fatality at a Kansas job site in which a worker was killed when struck by material.
OSHA was also simultaneously investigating the death of a 48-year-old man who died at a job site in southeast Kansas. The worker was struck by a vehicle at a Colt Energy natural gas pipeline construction site in Montgomery County.
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Oil Worker Killed in Kansas Refinery
An oil worker was killed in a September 2017 fire at the HollyFrontier oil refinery in El Dorado, Kansas. The worker was a member of the United Steelworkers Union (USW). The fire started after a furnace blew out, and the worker succumbed to injuries sustained in the fire. Lynne Hancock, the spokesperson for the USW’s oil sector, said in response to the death, “Our union is working with OSHA to investigate this incident and find the root cause(s) so it does not happen again.”
Motor Vehicle Fatalities Among Oil and Gas Workers in Kansas
Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of work-related fatality in the oil and gas extraction industry in Kansas, according to a study published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention [1.]. The study found that at least 202 oil and gas extraction workers died in a work-related motor vehicle crash from 2003 to 2009.
The motor vehicle fatality rate for workers in the oil industry was 8.5 times that of all private wage and salary workers, according to the study. Workers from small oil and gas establishments and workers from well-servicing companies were at the greatest risk of dying in a motor vehicle crash.
Pick-up trucks were the most frequent type of vehicle occupied by the fatally injured worker. Safety belt non-use was noted in 38.1% of the cases. The authors concluded that increased focus on motor vehicle safety in the industry is needed, in particular among small establishments.
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Again, if you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an oilfield accident in Kansas, you should contact our oil field accident lawyers immediately by using the form below or calling our law firm toll-free 24 hrs/day by dialing (866) 588-0600 to schedule a free case review and legal options.
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