Wichita When the city of Wichita acquired downtown land several years ago, it might have struck oil.
City officials confirmed Monday that they are considering drilling on the land after being told that significant deposits of oil might be found under the site, although no official discussions have been held, The Wichita Eagle reported.
"There have been some people here to see us from the local oil industry, and they're telling us there could be significant oil down there," Mayor Carl Brewer said. "So, we think it's something that we have to check out."
The land near the Arkansas River has been designated as the site for a new city library. The city might delay construction anyway because of budget constraints but oil drilling would not further postpone the project, Brewer said.
"The concrete portion of the production wouldn't be as large as a car," Brewer said. "They can pump the oil off to somewhere else, and you don't have the huge well with all the noise and the smell that it used to have."
Oil has been discovered in downtown Wichita in the past, but current city regulations make it difficult to drill inside city limits. Nonetheless, Brewer and council members say they want a definitive answer on whether enough oil exists under the property to make drilling viable.
"We haven't actually taken it up formally as a council, so there's a number of things put in play," council member Jeff Longwell said. "With today's technology and a number of factors, I want to make sure we protect the resources we have. We ought to take a look at whether our citizens can be helped budgetarily with the city owning an oil well."
Rex Buchanan, interim director of the Kansas Geological Survey in Lawrence, said oil deposits near riverbeds are common and new methods of oil recovery make it reasonable for the city to consider drilling.
"There's the newer technology, like 3-D seismic (an underground imaging system using sound waves) and recovery techniques that didn't exist 40 or 50 years ago," he said. "It makes good sense to look at older fields."
Brewer says he's curious about the oil reports but he's not counting city revenue yet.
"It's not going to cause me to load up the family and move to Beverly Hills," he said. "But it is interesting, isn't it?"