Oil and gas production in Kansas
The first oil well in the state was drilled in 1860 in what is now Miami County. It was marginally, but not economically, productive. After the Civil War, drilling continued in eastern Kansas, and the first well to produce commercial quantities of oil was drilled in 1892 near Neodesha in southeastern Kansas.
Some of the early wells encountered natural gas, which drillers considered a nuisance. However, in the 1890s, natural gas became a popular source of cheap energy for brick plants, zinc smelters, cement plants, and other industries, particularly in the southeastern part of the state. When natural gas production there declined due to depletion, the industries also declined.
With the discovery of the El Dorado field near Wichita in 1915, Kansas became known as a significant oil-producing state. The field was one of the first places where science of geology was used in the search for oil when then State Geologist Erasmus Haworth mapped rock outcrops that could help identify where oil might be trapped in the subsurface.
In 1922, natural gas was discovered in southwestern Kansas, but it was not until the 1930s that construction of major pipelines encouraged development of the Hugoton Gas Area, one of the largest natural gas fields in the world. However, as annual production declines, due to depletion, the Hugoton only produces about 13 percent of what it did in 1966.
The discovery of oil in 1923 in Russell County, 120 miles northwest of the nearest field, brought oil activity in western Kansas. Since then, more than 7,000 oil and gas fields have been discovered in Kansas, many along a subsurface geologic structure called the Central Kansas Uplift that runs northwest to southeast across the center of the state. As oil prices have risen and fallen, production in the state has gone through boom and bust cycles.
Through 2018, the cumulative production in Kansas is more than 6.7 billion barrels of oil and 41.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The most recent information about Kansas oil and gas production is available on the KGS website.
Hugoton Natural Gas Area of Kansas: Kansas Geological Survey Public Information Circular 5.
Natural gas from coal in eastern Kansas: Kansas Geological Survey Public Information Circular 19.
Oil and gas production by county: Kansas Geological Survey website.
Petroleum: A Primer for Kansas: Kansas Geological Survey.
State oil and gas production history: Kansas Geological Survey website.