From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Oil Drilling in The Land of The Free

Life in Kansas... And What I Think About It...



Oil well drilling rigSeveral years ago when we visited my brother and his family, southwest of Wichita, Kansas, they took us to see an oil well being drilled.

My sister-in-law Kathy works for an oilfield supply company. Her boss and other brothers in that family and any employees who wanted to throw in some money were all shareholders in the well. Kathy was an investor, but I don't know if they struck oil or not.

They had a big pond (behind the racks of pipe in the photo above) that was full of water which is used somehow in the drilling process. The closer you got to the drilling tower, the more mud (and noise) there was.

When they start drilling, they work around the clock. This crew had a little trailer house that was completely open on one end. I guess they could go in there and get a cup of coffee and still keep an eye on the mechanisms through the open side of the trailer. The inside of the trailer was only a little less muddy than the work area.

The Kansas oilfields remain important. A lot of oil has been pumped out over the years, and some wells had become too marginal to operate at a profit when prices were low. However, with higher oil prices, higher-priced technology can be used to extract oil, and some of the wells that had been closed are back in production.

The latest oil production statistics I could find in a quick search said that Kansas was producing 93,000 barrels of oil per day in 2005.

Kansas oil field drilling rigIt looks like oil prices are going to get higher and higher for the rest of man's time on earth, so it's a good thing we're still developing our domestic resources. I'm glad if the high price I pay for a tank of gasoline goes at least partly to the guys in Kansas and other oil-producing areas of the United States.

The American flag flying on the site expressed an appropriate spirit of independence, I thought. Kathy says their guys always fly the flag when they drill. I'm proud to know that.

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2 comments:

Larry said...

I was interested by your account, as my father's family came from the Wichita area. I retain a certain fondness for the Kansas prairie landscape stemming from childhood memories and subsequent visits.

Genevieve said...

Around Wichita, it is definitely flat, open prairie land. It must have been a sight when it was all native grassland.

My brother & sister-in-law live at the very edge of the Red Hills, southwest of Wichita about 45 miles.

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