The Future of Southern Illinois Oil
By: Carly O'Keefe
SALINE COUNTY, IL --Most people probably cringe when they hear crude oil prices hovering above $60 a barrel. To most it just means it'll cost more to fill up your tank. But to independent oil producers in Illinois, it means their business is coming back to life. But the oil industry isn't one that's able to bounce back quickly.
"The industry as a whole basically cocooned itself to try to weather the storm. Once that's done, the nature of our business, we're not able to go back out and emerge from that in the same state we were to begin with," said Kevin Reimer of Finite Resources in Harrisburg.
Reimer was just starting to see success in the business when the independent oil industry tanked due to rock-bottom crude oil prices.
"People who had set aside money has a choice of walking away or feeding their business until a time came that it became profitable again, we're fortunate that people stuck it out."
But not every independent oil company was able to "stick it out". Reimer made it through, but many independently-owned oil wells were abandoned and have since become useless, and the exploration of new reserves in Illinois was drastically cut back. Now with crude oil prices staying above $60, it's bubbling back up, but many say it won't be a speedy recovery.
"There'll be some companies add equipment and different things. It's definitely on the come-back, but it's going to be slow," said Randy Oestreich of BPI Industries Incorporated.
Illinois oil producers say the worst part of the crude oil slump wasn't necessarily the threat of going out of business, it was losing all of the talented folks who knew what the Illinois oil business was all about.
"It's not only a mater of money it's a matter of losing talent, and losing the ability to draw new people into the business," Reimer said.