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Friday
June 05th, 2020
L&T Opinions Page

warren martinGUEST COLUMN, Warren Martin, Executive Director of Kansas Strong

 

In recent days, we have seen the collapse of oil prices. This has left many wondering about the future of the Kansas Oil and Natural Gas Industry. Make no mistake, this is a serious situation for all local producers. While the industry has taken it on the chin in this round, the bout isn't over. This isn't the first crisis the industry has faced, and the resources they provide are necessary for Americans to get back to work.

I am convinced the industry will thrive in the future for five reasons:

First, the average oil company in Kansas has three employees. Oil and gas companies in Kansas are primarily made up of locally owned family operations. These producers live in our communities. They support our nonprofits, attend our churches, shop in our stores and support our schools. You don't easily close the door on a business in the community in which you live.

Second, the industry provides more than gasoline! Oil and natural gas are used to produce over 6,000 raw materials used to produce millions of products we rely on every single day. Especially now, as they are necessary for producing many of the products we depend on to fight COVID-19: gloves, masks, scrubs, ventilators, and more. The industry is more than energy. It is a part of every aspect of our lives. It is the vital and necessary resource to get America back to work.

Third, this isn't the industry's first crisis. The industry has more than a hundred years of existence in the State of Kansas. It has been through wars, depressions, pandemics, economic catastrophes and, all the while, provided the resources for Kansas to advance as a state. Through it all, the Kansas Oil and Gas Industry has grown to be more and more led by local, independent operators.

Fourth, oil and gas producers are a breed apart. The industry is a high-risk/high-reward industry. Someone who has the grit to be a part of the industry generally doesn't have the personality to quietly throw in the towel. They are intelligent, determined entrepreneurs who can readily adapt.

Make no mistake these are dire times in the industry. Yet in the past, they have adapted on many fronts. They adapted to address environmental concerns. The industry has done more than any other industry in the world and has spent more than the federal government to address environmental concerns. They've adapted to overcome booms and busts for over a hundred years. They can and will adapt. It is who they are!

And finally, we need them. The industry historically provides over 118,000 jobs in Kansas which produce more than $3 billion in annual family income and $1.4 billion in state and local tax revenues. It is one of the leading industries in the state. Most of the gasoline utilized in the state, especially in Northeast Kansas, comes from locally produced oil, local refineries and is powering our mobility.

Americans have always loved a good fight. The boxer enters the ring as a definitive underdog. He stands toe-to-toe and takes the blows. No doubt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, reduced consumption and COVID-19 have dealt a devastating blow. The industry might be down, but it is far from being out.

The Kansas Oil and Natural Gas Industry is too vital to our state's future. And make no mistake the next round is coming. When it does, the Kansas Oil and Natural Gas Industry will be there to continue providing the jobs, revenue and resources that Kansans need to get back to work.

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