The first publicized news of oil in Nebraska was an 1883 newspaper story recounting a “vein of petroleum” discovered in Richardson County. Across the next 57 years, prospectors spent thousands of dollars and drilled hundreds of wells searching for oil throughout Nebraska. Traces of oil were discovered at various locations across the state, but Nebraska didn’t have a producing well until 1940.
In 1939 and 1940, the Pawnee Royalty Company drilled two encouraging but unsuccessful wells near Falls City. A third well, Bucholz No. 1 was drilled nearby on April 22, 1940. On May 29, 1940, Bucholz No. 1 began producing crude, averaging 169-1/2 barrels daily for the first 60 days. Interestingly, Bucholz No. 1 was only five miles east of the “vein of petroleum” reported in 1883.
Today, most of the Nebraska oil and gas production and the speculation is concentrated in the panhandle area of Nebraska. While a significant portion of the Niobrara Shale cuts through the panhandle, few companies are attempting to exploit that portion. The Niobrara drillings are mostly occurring in Colorado and Wyoming.
In the last few years, hundreds of drilling permits covering hundreds of thousands of acres have been given out, almost all focused in the panhandle area. Interestingly, while permits have been issued, no drilling has happened yet. It is, according to most experts, only a matter of time.
Nebraska Oil Production Statistics
- As a whole, Nebraska produced over 3 million barrels of crude oil in 2012 and averages 2,739,300 Mcf of natural gas annually.
Nebraska Projected Oil Reserves
- There are 14 million barrels of proven oil reserves in Nebraska.
Number of Producing Wells in Nebraska
- Nebraska has 207 wells producing crude oil, and 354 wells producing natural gas.
Big Players in Nebraska Oil
- Earthstone Energy Inc., Evertson Oil Company, Benson Mineral Group, Whitehead Oil Company
*all oil and gas projections based on EIA.gov information