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Let's Celebrate the Kansas Oil & Gas Industry

Posted by Kelly Rains |

Let’s Celebrate the Kansas Oil & Gas Industry

A Message from Your KIOGA President, Edward Cross



            The presence of petroleum has been known in Kansas for as long as there have been people crossing the plains.  After a visit to Pennsylvania in January 1860 and hearing about the August 1859 success of Colonel Edwin Drake’s oil well near Titusville, Pennsylvania, George W. Brown, a Lawrence newspaperman, joined Erastus Heath, a local member of the Kansas Territorial Legislature, to drill the first oil well in Kansas eight miles east of Paola, Kansas in what is today Miami County in June 1860.  And so began the Kansas oil industry. 

The history of the oil industry in Kansas is an American story.  A story of daring talent, of dedication to an idea even if the odds were great, of the unshakable belief that in America, all things are possible.  Here are a few things that occurred in 1860 when those first Kansas oil producers lived:

    1. Abraham Lincoln was elected President, marking the first Republican to hold that office.
    1. The Pony Express began its mail delivery service fromSt. Joseph,MissouritoSacramento,California.
    1. South Carolinabecame the first State to secede from theU.S.
    1. The first British Golf Open was held.
    1. TheWinchesterrifle was invented.

From plastics to medicines, from kerosene to jet-fuel, from mascara to Vaseline, from the oils that lubricate our machines to the asphalt we drive on, most aspects of our lives are impacted by the petroleum industry.  The refining of kerosene from oil dramatically changed the course of everyday life by providing an economical, safe, and widely available illuminate to light up the night throughout the world.  The refining of gasoline from oil has dramatically changed the course of transportation, commerce, and warfare throughout the world.  Achievements by Colonel Edwin Drake in Pennsylvania and entrepreneurs like George Brown in Paola, Kansas ignited a triumph of American ingenuity, inventiveness, and diligence in developing new technologies, new business models, and new industries which remain an inspiration for Americans. 

The Kansas oil industry was a leader and innovator of 20th century technologies that helped expand oil production in times when more energy was critical for our nation.  The discovery of the El Dorado field in Butler County in 1915 was one of the largest oil strikes of the time.  Indeed, the Allied Forces High Command recognized the need for oil during World War I and transformed what had once been the farm town of El Dorado into a petroleum center that had a profound influence on the lives of people in El Dorado, Wichita, Augusta, Towanda, and beyond.  And now we are using 21st century technology to help fuel our nation, fund the State of Kansas, and confront our nations’ dangerous dependence on foreign energy.  The impact of energy on our economy, culture, and environment has never been more important.

Looking back at the challenges Kansas independent oil and gas producers have faced during the past 78 years and the multitude of political barriers we have overcome, ours is the ultimate story of blood, sweat, tears, willpower, unity, and passion.  As independents, we know the oil and gas business is fraught with tremendous risk and carries extreme geological, commercial, and financial exposure.  These very challenges have defined the generations of Kansas independent oil and gas producers who have played and continue to play a vital role in meeting our nation’s energy needs.

The Kansas Independent Oil & Gas Association (KIOGA) is proud to be a part of the history of the Kansas oil industry and look forward to being a part of the ongoing history of our industry.  From our beginning in 1937, KIOGA has grown from a small group of producers into the lead state and national advocate for Kansas independent oil and natural gas producers, working along side other national, state, and regional associations to assure networking opportunities and facilitate the effortless exchange of educational materials and information on our nation’s vital production of oil and natural gas resources.  KIOGA is driven and led by a robust membership of over 4,200 members.  Successfully advocating on behalf of Kansas’ independent oil and natural gas producers for more than 78 years, KIOGA continues to stand as the primary voice for Kansas independent oil and gas producers.

Kansas independent oil and gas producers have survived a past marked by increasingly frequent cycles of high and low prices and increasing public misunderstanding of their work and opposition to their activities.  For the future, we can expect more of the same.  But we will find the right ways to survive in the future as well.  Going forward, independents will continue to occupy the front lines, carrying hope, resourcefulness, and know-how to meet an increasing need for oil and natural gas.

The history of the Kansas oil and gas industry is an American story of industrious entrepreneurs who exhibited the pioneering spirit this country is known for, of innovation, speculation, and perseverance.  All contributed to the founding and development of the Kansas oil and gas industry, which has, and continues to transform the world.