GIRARD, Kan. —
A Southeast Kansas oil field was the backdrop Thursday for U.S. Reps. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., and Billy Long, R-Mo., as they promoted domestic oil and natural gas production.
Morris Energy Co., owned by Derek Morris, of Weir, was their host on the 160-acre parcel between Girard and St. Paul on Kansas Highway 47. Morris estimated a million barrels of oil are under the ground on the site. The wells were drilled 70 years ago, with the most recent pump installed 30 years ago.
He told reporters that he expected to produce between 1,800 and 3,600 barrels of oil per year.
Oil is a $4.3 billion annual industry in Kansas and a $9.5 million industry in Missouri.
“The U.S. does have vast resources in this area, and with new technology, it could lead to a manufacturing renaissance,” Jenkins said. She pointed to estimates by the U.S. Energy Information Administration that the U.S. in a few years will challenge Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer.
“I think our future is bright in Southeast Kansas,” Jenkins said.
Long said Congress has to do everything it can to promote energy independence.
“You can either pay ‘all of the above’ lip service, or you can have an ‘all of the above’ energy policy,” he said.
He said products in stores come in trucks, so fuel prices are passed along to consumers.
“We can’t drill in this country, but we can loan money to Brazil to drill,” Long said.
“It’s very possible the energy industry could lead us out of this economic downturn,” said David Bleakley, executive vice president of Colt Energy, of Iola.
He said regulation needs to be left in the hands of the states, not the federal government.
“Fracking is a safe technology,” Bleakley said of hydraulic fracturing, a controversial method of breaking through rock to get to oil or natural gas. “It’s a safe process.”
He said President Barack Obama needs to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Jenkins said science has proved “over and over and over again” the safety of fracking.
“Are we saying we’re not ever going to have accidents?” Bleakley said. “Of course not. Whenever there are mechanical systems and people operating them, there will be accidents.”
After the oil field event, there was a lunch in Pittsburg with other oil company people.
Long told them that Obama is stuck between the unions, which want him to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, and environmentalists, who don’t. He said that after November, Obama may no longer have anything to say about it, a sentiment others around the table endorsed.
Steve Stanfield, of Consolidated Oil Well Services, of Chanute, introduced himself as a “dreaded fracker.” He also said it is a safe procedure. He said water tables are hundreds of feet deep or less, while the fracking takes place at a depth of one to three miles. He said there are multiple levels of protection between the two. He said special interests have targeted fracking because it’s difficult to understand.
Bleakley said fracking has been done without incident in Kansas since 1947.
Bob Eberhart, of Bobcat Oil Field Service Inc., of Louisburg, said he has heard about oil company subsidies, but he has received only the tax deductions available to any other company.
“There are no oil subsidies,” Long said.
Jenkins said many people don’t make a distinction between so-called “big oil” and the small, independent oil companies like those represented at the table.
“If we are subsidized, I wish you guys would pass on the message that we’re missing some checks,” Stanfield said.