Kansas Oil & Gas Industry: Fueling America

Fuel pump nozzle in hand with US states flags on background - Kansas

Kansas oil and gas industry continues to grow and adapt despite uncertainties.

By Frank Reddy

Oil and gas resources continue to play an important role in the livelihoods of Kansans, according to Edward Cross, president of the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association.

Despite a 60-percent drop in crude oil costs since 2014 and substantial federal regulatory changes, “the Kansas oil and gas industry is adapting and evolving to produce the next generation of dynamic growth and success,” Cross wrote in a recent edition of his monthly newsletter, “Kansas Oil and Gas Industry Strategic Analysis.”

Klee Robert Watchous, owner of Palomino Petroleum Inc., in Newton, Kansas, is one of many oil and gas producers in Kansas.

“The oil and gas industry in Kansas is a big part of the state’s economy,” Watchous said. “It impacts it in many ways that many people don’t realize … we have basically oil and agriculture and manufacturing in Kansas.”

Watchous, who has been working in the industry his whole life, said “perseverance is key” in doing well in this industry.

“It’s a volatile price,” Watchous said. “Sometimes, it’s up. Sometimes, it’s down … in terms of success, you absolutely have to have the ability to stay in the business for the long term. That’s important.”

His grandfather started the company in 1969. Watchous has been president of the company since 1993. During that time, he’s seen technological advances, increases in oil prices and decreases in oil prices, and increases in efficiency.

He said the impact of the industry in the state of Kansas cannot be overstated.

“The oil and gas industry in Kansas … is a big deal,” Watchous said.

In 2016, the Kansas oil and gas industry generated nearly $1.8 billion in output, put tens of thousands of people to work in the state and injected hundreds of millions of dollars into the economy, according to Cross.

During the last 10 years, the oil and gas industry in Kansas supported 118,000 jobs, $3 billion in family income and $1.4 billion in state and local tax revenue, Cross stated.

Nationally, Kansas ranks ninth in terms of the amount of oil produced, and it is the 12th largest natural gas producer, his newsletter states.

Cross’ organization, the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association, was founded in 1937 to represent oil and gas producers in Kansas as well as allied service and supply companies.

The organization aims to “improve the market for oil and gas produced and to promote the welfare of the oil and gas industry in the state.”

In his recent newsletter, Cross said the oil and gas industry is “an integral part of our society. Much of our high standard of living can be traced to the use of petroleum with over 6,000 products produced from petroleum. The Kansas oil and gas industry fuels America, helps the Kansas economy and makes significant, positive contributions to our way of life.”


This article originally appeared in “Kansas: From the Heart of America”


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