Technological advances revive Kansas oil fields

Wichita EagleSeptember 29, 2011 

MEDICINE LODGE — There's a new land rush on the Oklahoma state line, but this time it's not settlers stampeding south, it's oil companies flowing north.

Expensive new technologies that bring new life to old oil fields have prompted several large oil companies to buy up leases on hundreds of thousands of acres in Kansas.

In what may be the most significant move, Shell Oil bought two very large lease tracts in Kingman, Harper and Barber counties from Wichita oilman Wayne Woolsey, the first time the company has been back in Kansas in two decades.

Chesapeake Energy and SandRidge Energy, major independents based in Oklahoma City, have also entered the state in a big way. Others are said to be here already or rumored to be on their way.

Oil company landmen have swarmed landowners and county offices in the bottom two tiers of Kansas counties. They are trying to lock up the most promising areas for exploration.

A normal day at the Barber County Register of Deeds office in Medicine Lodge was four or five people, said deputy register Kathy Armstrong.

This year, 20 people a day camp out in the office searching through records for the names of landowners. One day, she said, they had 40 people crowding in the office and sprawling out into the hallways.

"We keep thinking there can't be any more, but it just keeps growing," she said.

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