Kansas oil production up, natural gas down in 2013

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Horizontal drilling helped boost oil production numbers slightly in Kansas last year, but natural gas continued its downward spiral due to low prices and a reluctance to invest in new production, the Kansas Geological Survey said.

Kansas oil production rose 7 percent, from 43.7 million barrels in 2012 to 46.8 million barrels last year, with most of that increase coming from the Mississippian limestone formation underneath southern and western Kansas, the Geological Survey said. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has put new oil deposits in those areas within reach.

While 334 wells were producing in the Mississippian limestone as of January, only 12 were producing in other Kansas formations, said David Newell, a geologist with the Geological Survey.

Natural gas production fell 1.5 percent, from 299 billion cubic feet in 2012 to 295 billion cubic feet in 2013, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1l5pMhk ). That rate of decline was slower than in recent years, Geological Survey geologist Lynn Watney said, with gas production falling most years since 1995. The exception was in 2008, when production rose after prices rebounded.

Despite the lower gas production rate, the value of both gas and oil in Kansas rose in 2013. Natural gas produced last year had a value of $1.1 billion, up from $790 million in 2012, while the value of oil rose from $3.7 billion in 2012 to $4.1 billion last year.

The Hugoton gas field in southwest Kansas is the largest in the western hemisphere, Watney said, but the most easily accessible gas already has been tapped because the Hugoton field has been in use since the 1920s. Kansas coal beds have produced some gas, he said, but low gas prices don’t make that a lucrative pursuit.

“There’s been attempts to produce additional gas,” Watney said. “There’s just not a lot of incentive.”

Horizontal wells accounted for 9.7 percent of the state’s oil and gas production in October, but that fell to 7.7 percent in January. While there was a rush for rights to drill horizontal wells a few years ago, Watney said, not all of them have been profitable and drillers are now taking a more cautious approach.


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