Arkansas City to drill for oil under city park

ARKANSAS CITY, Kansas – The mayor of Ark city says, no. The rest of the city commission voted, yes. The town will drill for oil right under the city pool and city parks.

“The company that wants to drill, will be moving forward in August,” says Arkansas City commissioner Jay Warren. “This should be a really interesting drill.”

Warren has been in the oil and gas business about 25 years. He says there will be no drilling inside the actual city parks or next to the city pool.

“Well, I just wanted to have a second reading on this idea. It had a first reading by the council, and I wanted a second reading for more public feedback,” says Mayor Chad Giles. “So, I voted no.”

Giles wants to know more about the drilling. He says the drilling will be “horizontal” and there will be no wells on the surface of city parks. The wells would be about a half mile away.

“But, the company that wants to drill does have surface rights,” explains Giles.

Surface rights would mean the company could have the right to put a drill in at least one public park.

“Well, we are not going to create an eyesore,” says Warren. “They (oil company) would have to go through the process of getting approval for a rig in an open area of the city. I won’t allow that to happen.”

Warren says 163 acres of land owned by the city are included in the oil lease.

“But that lease does not give them to the right to make a mess,” says Warren. “The only place they could drill is agriculture or public lands, so we’ve already got that in place. They have to get a conditional use permit and it has to be approved by our planning commission so they have got to go through the process. And we also adopted rules and regulations from inside Oklahoma City for their city limits, so, it’s going to be pretty strict. They do a lot of drilling in Oklahoma City. They’re familiar with those rules and regulations they go through, so we adopted the same thing.”

“I would like more time to research it to see what the people thought about that very question, if they thought an oil pump in the middle of Carver Park would be beneficial to the city for the cost we were receiving. I suppose if they strike gold and hit millions I’ll be wrong. If not, maybe they’ll be wrong. I don’t know.”

The company is Gulf Exploration, and it is interested in a large portion of south Arkansas City.

“They think there is oil on this side of the river bend,” says Warren. “It will be interesting to see if they are right.”

Arkansas City gets $300 an acre a year for the lease, plus a little less than a quarter of the profits, if oil production begins.

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