May 16, 2012 - When the hammer fell, Jordan Development Company Vice President Ben Brower had lease to oil, natural gas, and other mineral resources beneath Bay Court Park.
He bid $444 for mineral leases in Independence Township, and other
sites in Oakland County, for $12 per acre during an auction in
Lansing, May 8.
The rights of Independence Township and its citizens will be
protected, said township Superintendent Bart Clark.
"The township will enter into this on firm ground," Clark said. "Our records indicate that we own 25 percent of what's in the ground."
The Department of Natural Resources considers Bay Court Park "non-developmental" land, so Jordan Development can't drill into the park's surface.
However, they could put a wellhead nearby for lateral oil drilling or for horizontal hydraulic fracking – injecting water, sand, and chemicals into the earth to loosen then extract natural gas.
The procedure is controversial. Environmentalists say it can contaminate ground water and are calling to ban the procedure in Michigan. Oil and gas companies and the state Department of Environmental Quality say it is safe.
According to Brower, Jordan Development has started contacting private landowners around the Bay Court area.
If a landowner agrees to allow drilling and minerals are discovered, they'll get a cut of the royalties. Jordan Development would also have to give Independence Township a cut of the profits.
Clark, who has headed up the research on oil and gas exploration in Bay Court, said the township's attorney recommended a thorough title search so they know what they own before moving forward.
Jordan Development of Traverse City has about 450 oil and natural gas wells in north Michigan and about 20 in the south part of the state. Brower said they don't have "a specific prospect in mind" for the
Oakland County parcels.
Chris Bickley, Jordan's land agent met the Independence
Township Board for discussion on May 15.
Clarkston News reporter