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Main Street seismic survey approved



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December 19, 2012 - If the ground beneath your feet starts vibrating as you stroll down Main Street this winter, it's probably not an earthquake.

In a unanimous vote, the Clarkston City Council agreed to allow West Bay Exploration, an oil and gas exploration company from Traverse City, to conduct a geophysical seismic survey on M-15 around mid-January.

While municipalities are not always contacted about such tests, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) requires companies to contact landowners along state roads before seismic surveys are conducted. Similar communication with property owners isn't necessary for testing done along county roads, Pat Gibson, Vice President of West Bay, explained.

West Bay's search for potential pockets of oil and gas underground involves laying a line of cable along the roadside. Once the cable is placed, a tractor will run the length of it, vibrating as moves. Gibson, who was invited to attend a meeting after the city received a letter about the geophysical test, estimated the whole process would take two to three days.

He assured no roads would be closed for the project, but there may be flaggers directing traffic around the operation. The seismic survey would start south of Waldon road and end off of Dixie Highway near the Lancaster Lake Apartments.

Based on the information gathered, West Bay will determine if further exploration for valuable minerals under the earth is necessary.

"After we run the seismic test, that's when, if we saw something promising, we'd be back here asking landowners to sign an oil and gas lease to allow us to continue looking for oil," said Gibson.

"Should you find oil on my property, can I move to Beverly Hills?" asked one resident with a laugh.

"In the end, that's why we're here," Gibson replied. "We're in the oil exploration business," he pointed out.

West Bay begins the process of searching for oil with a seismic survey, and they've had luck in other parts of Oakland County including Kensington Metropark and the GM proving grounds.

On the other hand, "there's a pretty high probability that we won't find anything," said Gibson. Even after the seismic survey is completed, West Bay won't know what's in the ground unless they drill. "There's no testing available at this point that can tell us without drilling if there is oil, gas, water, or just rock down there," he said.

When Councilman Mike Sabol asked about hydraulic fracturing, Gibson answered, "We don't frack."

Clarkston News reporter
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