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What is the Matter with Kansas? If You Like Oil, Nothing.

Black gold might soon be gushing from the Kansas soil, according to AP. Drilling has only just started but the oil is attracting speculators from all over. Ancient land records are being pulled off of courthouse shelves in a frenzy; land that cost $30 an acre is now fetching $3000.

The familiar signs of an oil boom are everywhere: restaurants busier than ever, rental prices shooting up, hotels booked solid. Kansas has more undrilled acreage than most states. Each horizontal well costs about $3 million and is expected to deliver a 90 percent return on investment, paying for itself after 18 months of production. High oil prices are an extra impetus to drill, baby, drill — and to keep the new jobs sprouting from the Kansas ground. The boom “is going to change things forever in this part of the world,” says one local prospector.

Kansas’ oil boom is important for two reasons. Firstly, here we have another example of the incredible job-producing abilities of brown industry. Compare the furor over Kansas’ oil and gas explosion with the unfulfilled and overhyped “green” jobs, which have yet to materialize. And while green jobs will require subsidies for years, brown jobs don’t require federal upfront money — and will deliver taxes to the Treasury right from the start.

Secondly, just when it looks like America’s energy supply will dominate domestic politics and foreign policy alike for years to come, we seem to be literally swimming in new reserves of oil and gas, sinking new wells across the country while finding ways to squeeze the last drops out of old ones, and all the while leading the world in inventive and efficient (and increasingly environmentally friendly) technologies to get it all out.

Abundant natural resources powered the great American boom after the Civil War and then lifted the country to unprecedented prosperity in the 20th century. So far, from the standpoint of energy at least, the 21st century looks like more of the same.

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  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    The reason this is all happening is because all the drilling is taking place on private lands, and the Enviro-Misanthropes have been unable to block development, as they have with the development of Nuclear, Coal, Shale Oil, and Oil development on public lands and Off-Shore.

    The Enviros hate mankind and we should hate them right back.

    “The Humano-Centric ecology is Mother Nature’s greatest achievement” Jacksonian Libertarian

  • Brett

    We’ll see. There’s been a lot of exciting oil and gas “discoveries” over the past couple of years, but how many of them will actually pan out into significant reserves? The company drilling for oil in Kansas hasn’t even confirmed a significant reserve yet – they’re just drilling wells.

  • Corlyss

    EPA will never allow development of cheap energy reserves in the US. Never.

  • Luke Lea

    I’m surprised that every square mile in the US, or at least every square mile that was flat, had not already been explored. Are there any undiscovered gold mines out there?

  • Bart Hall (Kansas, USA)

    Kansas is already the #10 energy state in America. Looks like we might move up the list a bit.

  • Randy

    Let’s just hope the EPA doesn’t find out about any of this.

  • Jimmy J.

    A modern, hi-tech society floats on a sea of energy. That energy needs to be reasonably priced and secure. Every aspect of our world is dominated by electricity, natural gas, transportation fuels, and coal. We have been restrained from exploring for new oil and gas by the green movement since the 70s. The billions of dollars spent for imported oil each year has been a drain on the economy and transferred billions to nations in OPEC that have been able to blackmail us far beyond their actual influence in the world.

    When an oil company leases Federal land it pays lease payments up front, which are renewable yearly. If the company is succesful, they pay a royalty to the Feds for every barrel of oil. They then pay taxes on the profits they make from selling the oil. In addition , if the comapny pays a dividend, the Feds tax those as well. Then, when the oil is refined into gasolins and sold the Feds levy a tax on every gallon of gas. The Feds take no risks, but they do share in the wealth at every step of the way. For the government to be against oil and gas exploration stunts their tax revenues, prevents wealth from being created, and makes us less secure as a nation.
    In addition, oil and gas exploration and production creates new, well-paid jobs that create more tax revenue for the Feds and States. North Dakota and Kansas have discovered this. Alaskans know it, but since the Feds control most of the land there, they cannot participate until the Feds agree to open those lands for more drilling. Our offshore areas will provide bonanzas of wealth if and when the Feds open them up. Virginia wants to open up offshore drilling but has been stopped by the Feds.

    If we want to reinvigorate our economy, drill, drill, drill is the best and easiest path forward.

  • Walter Sobchak

    Just wait until the NYTimes hears about this. They will be foaming at the mouth to stop it.

  • Tom

    Kansas has been chocked full of producing wells for a long time. Im not sure what Brett is talking about. Drag this map down and have a look at Kansas. Green dots represent active wells.

  • Atanu Maulik

    “…brown jobs don’t require federal upfront money” ___But some federal “common sense” is required and it is in short supply these days.

  • Kenny

    How the American-hating Left within the Democrat Party hates this

  • bman

    We had a hell of an oil boom in the 70’s as T Boone will attest, but we never had anything like the leases that are being signed this year here in Clark County. It is a definate plus since the drought has reduced our cattle herds and our wheat production. Also, we have received almost as much rain to date as we did all of last year which is replenishing the sub soil moisture and creating hopes of a good wheat crop. Great place to live, good schools, good medical care, little crime and affordable housing.

  • EvilBuzzard

    We’ll need at least 30 more years of this. That’s the optimistic projection of when we stop having to be a hydrocarbon economy.

  • Beth Donovan

    bman, shhhhhhhh!!!!! We don’t need those people from the East and West coasts moving here to Kansas. They will try to make our lovely State just like California and New York!

    There is nothing to see here in Kansas. Stay the heck away.

    BTW, it doesn’t cost anywhere near 3 million dollars to drill. Our neighbor drilled 5 wells for 30,000 each. 4 of them are producing pretty well, and that’s just on his 160 acres.

    We own our mineral rights on our 80 acres, if we ever feel the need to drill. Our land was sold over and over again back in the 1800s as part of oil speculation in Kansas. But no one ever drilled.

  • Bonfire of the Idiocies

    Don’t count out the Obama Administration, the speed bump on the road to prosperity. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Eric Holder pee all over the state so the EPA can come in and call it “wetlands.”

  • DCP

    Bonfire of the Idiocies –

    Thanks. I just spit coffee all over my keyboard, monitor, desk. . . .



  • RebeccaH

    Shhh, Kansas! Don’t let the Obama Administration know what you’re up to.

  • Rich K

    Imagine that, Jed Clampett was right all along.Just shoot the dirt and oil springs up. What a country.

  • Choey

    If you Kansans had just shut up, 0bama would have never noticed that you exist. Please just be quiet about Iowa.

  • ScottH

    To #14 above: Sorry, but there’s no way to drill an oil well for $30,000. Depending on the depth, it costs my company about $20,000 per foot to get from a vacant piece of land to the point where the well is producing oil to a tank. That includes clearing the well pad, the drilling rig, running wireline logs, running at a bare minimum 2 casing strings (larger surface pipe and smaller, maybe 5-1/2″ production casing…not cheap at all), cementing both strings of casing in place, the completion rig, perforating and fracing (yes, that’s the way it’s spelled in the industry), running steel production tubing, installing a wellhead, pumpjack (if needed) a tank battery, flow lines, and a meter run (if gas is produced), and a pipeline connection from the well to the main pipeline gathering system. A good used pumpjack can easily run $30,000 by itself, depending on its size.

  • TTT

    Interesting that red states, while just 50% of the vote, do in fact cover 80% of the land area of America.

    And red *counties*? 95%. Even California has some tiny, dense, blue counties, but most of the land is sparsely populated red counties.

  • kcs

    “Enviro-Misanthropes”? I like it, JL.

    I somewhat admire the human extinction and enviro-anarchist movements. At least they’re conscious of, and honest about, their agenda.

    Most leftists are too clueless to understand that their Priuses and I-Gadgets won’t run on power from wind and solar boondoggles for the politically connected. They only “know” that power from oil, natural gas, hydro, nuclear, etc. are too “icky”.


  • JeffC

    How is this helping Obama get re-elected ?

  • Bruce

    “I’m surprised that every square mile in the US, or at least every square mile that was flat, had not already been explored. ”

    The difference is that horizontal drilling and fracking allow you get larger amounts of oil and natural gas out of places where the gas and oil only trickled out before.

  • teapartydoc

    Heh heh.

  • Anthony DiSante

    “we seem to be literally swimming in new reserves of oil and gas”

    I doubt that.

  • Kevin G. Campbell

    I am from Southwestern Kansas, not to be confused with those [dratted] Yankees back east and I recently received a royalty check for my newest oil well. Drill baby drill!

  • George B

    Walter Russell Mead should interview the man most responsible for this energy boom: George P. Mitchell. He reinvested his money into figuring out how to make hydraulic fracturing less expensive. Started Mitchell Energy in 1946. Sold it to Devon Energy for $3.5 billion in 2001. George Mitchell is 92 years old.

  • Gary


  • Gary

    Brett , You’re kidding right. Do you think that this is much ado about nothing. It seems that you are a pessimistic person given the current oil situation. The oil people are not going hog wild over dry holes and hireing thousands of workers for nothing. GET REAL.

  • Gary

    The EPA will probably quit their jobs and go for the black gold as well lol.

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