It's over 90 degrees and dusty in the flat terrain just off Country Road 150 in rural Harper County, and early this week the crew from VAL Energy was drilling down 4,800 feet.
Three crews working 24 hours a day with a synthetic diamond rotary bit expected to have the hole drilled in time to take Sunday off.
It's been 150 years this month since the first commercial oil well was dug in Kansas. The industry in middle age has — and hasn't — changed a lot from its wild, greedy, glorious childhood.
It's true the oil and gas fields are generally well understood now, and producers are introducing new technology, such as 3-D imaging and horizontal drilling. Transportation systems are well established, markets are robust, and the industry is regulated.
But the industry remains driven by the same kind of calculating entrepreneurs who turned Kansas into a major producer of hydrocarbons. They have figured out how to survive with $10-a-barrel oil, tightening government regulation and aging oilfields.
Kansas' oil and gas industry is still big business — very big.
Read the complete story at kansas.com