In southern Kansas, an energy trove awaits ... maybe

Kansas City StarFebruary 28, 2012 

The whiff of another oil and natural-gas boom is wafting around southern Kansas, but it’s too early to tell whether it will become a reality.

But something serious is afoot. Energy companies have entered the state, leasing large swaths of land and starting to drill on some of it. In places such as Barber County, where the buffalo roam at a ranch owned by media tycoon Ted Turner, out-of-state license plates are more common because of the drilling.

Entrepreneurs sensing an opportunity have plans, including building motels for workers who are expected to come. In some small communities, housing is already in short supply.

The attention stems from the possibility that Kansas will be the latest state to gain an economic advantage from fracking — the use of water and chemicals under high pressure to retrieve oil and natural gas that were once out of reach. The state has millions of acres of underground rock that appear to be good candidates to provide oil and natural gas.

And companies are making some big bets that there are vast amounts of energy to recover in what is known as the Mississippian Lime play, a seam of rock under roughly 6.5 million acres of land stretching from Oklahoma into southwest and central Kansas.

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