Residents upset as exploratory drilling begins in Ark City on Monday

ARKANSAS CITY, Kansas – Residents in Ark City say they are upset over a deal that would put an oil well near homes.

The Ark City Commission approved a permit earlier this week that allows an oil company to build and operate an exploratory oil well.

On the western outskirts of Ark City, the discovery well will be built starting on Monday, but that isn’t stopping residents from voicing their concerns.

In a city owned field on the edge of Ark City, Gulf Exploration will drill next week to see if they strike oil.

But it’s near a newly built bike path and some homes and many of those residents are not happy about it.

“I have a daycare here and having that across the street gives me concerns about the health and the welfare of the kids,” said resident Sara McDonald.

“Pretty close to the river and it did come through without too much time for public comment at a city commission meeting,” said Tom Countryman, who works near the drilling site.

Ark City officials said they gave sufficient notice to neighboring residents, sending a letter about the plan more than a month ago.

Even then, Ark City’s mayor still voted against the permit because he worried it was being done too quickly and without enough resident input.

Nevertheless, commissioners still approved the plan.

Map of the proposed drill site
Map of the proposed drill site

“No fracking, it’s not going to be a horizontal drill, going to be a straight vertical drill. There won’t be any injections of salt water into the ground. It’ll actually be trucked to a permitted site in Oklahoma,” said Ark City Manager Nick Hernandez.

Ark City will be paid around $300 an acre for allowing the well on its property, including a share of any profits from drilling.

The city says it will follow the same safety and aesthetic standards used in Oklahoma City which has several oil wells in city limits.

“It has a lot to do with aesthetics, noise conditions, making sure that the property is cleaned up, making sure the nuisance part of what typically can come with a rural oil well, make sure that’s not an issue,” said Hernandez.

Residents said they are still not convinced.

“The smell and that kind of thing that’s associated with it just concerns me,” said Sara McDonald.

Once the crews arrive on Monday, the exploratory well will be up and running for the whole week.

Whether there is any future work after that depends on if any oil is discovered.

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