Gas prices are lower than they have been for years. On Jan.7th, you can pay $1.70 a gallon at several Wichita stations. There is hope that low prices will be a boom to the economy, but as KMUW's Aileen LeBlanc reports, the oil industry in Kansas is treading water.
"Kansas operators are price takers, not price makers," Jon Callen, Edmiston Oil Company President, says. "We just have to accept whatever the world price is going to be. If we lost total Kansas (oil) production, the world would never even notice it."
Falling crude prices are hitting oil producers especially hard in Kansas. The oil industry in the state is dominated by small, independent operators who depend heavily on the cash flow from producing wells to pay to drill new ones.
The Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association says the low prices are causing many companies to re-evaluate their drilling plans.
Analysts say the growth in new drilling across the country will slow as drillers avoid rock that is either not well understood or known to be unproductive.
An oil refinery's $555 million expansion project is proving to be a boost to McPherson's economy.
The National Cooperative Refinery Association oil refinery is replacing its coker, which converts some residual oil into higher-value products. The project has brought cranes to the city's skyline, one of them as high as 530 feet tall.
NCRA spokesman Vince Bengston says the project should conclude by late September.
A Canadian company is visiting eastern Kansas Thursday to discuss building a 600-mile oil pipeline from Illinois to Oklahoma.
Enbridge Inc. of Calgary, Alberta, hopes to begin construction early next month on its Flanagan South pipeline. The company has scheduled a series of open house sessions this week in Illinois, Missouri and Kansas.
The first session is in Iola at the North Community Building from 5-7 p.m. Thursday evening. Attendees will be able to review project maps and meet with Enbridge employees.