09 May 2012

Auction of Michigan Oil & Gas Leases Attracts Protesters

Story first appeared in The Detroit Free Press.

An auction of state-owned oil and gas leases attracted a throng of protesters and bidders Tuesday, the latter shelling out more than $3.6 million for the drilling rights to more than 90,000 acres across Lower Michigan.

All of the 18,347 acres on the auction block in Oakland County -- some surrounding popular and exclusive lakes in West Bloomfield and Commerce Township -- were sold, bringing in more than $616,000.

A representative of the company that obtained much of the Oakland County acreage, Jordan Development of Traverse City, said discussion of development plans was premature.

Jordan has operating oil and gas wells in Jackson and Calhoun counties but has no immediate plans for new wells in southeast Michigan. All of the Oakland County acreage is classified as nondevelopment, meaning that no drilling would be permitted on the surface; any extraction would have to be through directional drilling from nearby.

The auction also featured 23,419 acres in Barry County in west Michigan, much of it in and around the Yankee Springs state recreation area. That brought out a crowd of protesters to Constitution Hall in Lansing and resulting in several brief disruptions.

One protester, who stood up as bids were being taken and began to talk over the auctioneer, was taken into custody.

The focus of much of the opposition was on a drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which opponents believe can lead to contamination of water resources.

One of those carrying an anti-fracking sign outside the hall was worried about the health impacts.

State regulators counter that Michigan has some of the most stringent safety rules in the country, and decades of relatively problem-free experience with fracked wells.

Tuesday's auction prices were far short of the record $178 million two years ago.

Any proposed drilling in the West Bloomfield area around Cass Lake will meet with stiff opposition. West Bloomfield is slated to take up a proposed resolution Monday that would ban drilling and fracking in the township.

Jordan Development said that the company hoped to avoid conflict if plans proceeded to drill. They have done a lot of development in northern Michigan in areas with residential and resort development, and price themselves on getting along with people.

For more local and Michigan business related news, visit the Michigan Business News blog.
For national and worldwide related business news, visit the Peak News Room blog.
For healthcare and medical related news, visit the Healthcare and Medical blog.
For law related news, visit the Nation of Law blog.
For real estate and home related news, visit the  Commercial and Residential Real Estate blog.
For technology and electronics related news, visit the Electronics America blog.
For organic SEO and web optimization related news, visit the SEO Done Right blog.

No comments: