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Resident enthusiastic about oil, gas potential

January 02, 2013 - When Davisburg resident Carol Compagnoni heard a knock at her door, she didn't anticipate finding out there might be oil or gas under her property. "It's kind of a neat thing if you think about it. It just gives your property extra value," said Compagnoni.

With a packet of brochures, maps, and paperwork in hand, Eric Mayfield a representative of oil and gas producer West Bay Exploration, was on her doorstep to enter into a 5-year lease agreement with the Compagnonis for their mineral rights. If the Compagnonis sign the agreement, they will receive money up front along with a monthly check for 1/8 of the royalties if the drilling operation produces oil and gas.

The Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority (HCMA) accepted Jordan Development's proposal for continued drilling in the Indian Springs Metropark near Compagnoni's home in October. Since the HCMA's unanimous approval of the project, West Bay, a partner of oil and gas company Jordan Development, has been visiting landowners who live near the park. On December 18, Jordan Development approached the Independence Township Board of Trustees about a potential oil and gas exploration project.

While a drilling rig or wellhead would not be located on their property, oil and gas could be extracted from beneath the Compagnoni's land through horizontal drilling.

"We're in the 160 acre radius of the drill site that they have preliminarily chosen," Compagnoni stated. With the HCMA's permission, Jordan Development could choose to drill in a different area, however.

"There's no guarantee that that's the spot to actually drill; they just go in and cover all their bases before they bring the equipment," Compagnoni explained. "It's possible [the drilling location] could shift North, South, East, West and with that we could fall in or out of the 160 acre radius."

Overall, Compagnoni felt her interaction with the representative from West Bay Exploration was positive. Mayfield was prepared with maps and photos, and he had answers to "any question a homeowner would have," she described.

In particular, the Compagnoni's had questions about how extracting the minerals might impact their water. "Our concern was our water table," said Compagnoni. Her worries were relieved somewhat when Mayfield told her "they drill so far down it doesn't have an effect on our water table." Despite her positive interactions with West Bay's representative, Compagnoni decided to have the lease agreement reviewed by a lawyer.

In their contract with the HCMA, Jordan Development cannot install a well within 500 feet of any stream or open water without the HCMA's permission.

In addition to worries about potential impact to water quality, Compagnoni was concerned about noise, smells, and truck traffic in the Metropark. "We use the park a lot. I don't want to see it; I don't want to smell it; I don't want to hear it," she said.

Jordan Development and the HCMA determine drilling sites, and a well has already been placed off of Teggerdine road. Six potential well locations were outlined in a map of Indian Springs Metropark reviewed by the HCMA in October. The majority of the sites are in the Southeast corner of the park along White Lake road; one is just off Ware Road on the park's North side and another is slated for the southwest corner.

When it comes to potential environmental impacts from the project, Compagnoni isn't troubled. "There's been enough studies showing that once something comes into an environment the natural habitat just adjusts," she said.

The Compagnonis will have until the first of the year before Mayfield returns to answer their questions and likely collect a lease agreement for their mineral rights.

"It really comes down to this: we can sign this contract or not. It's up to us," said Compagnoni. "If we don't sign it, it doesn't mean they're going to give up on their project. It just means that we aren't going to be getting any money off of anything that could potentially be drawn."

View a map of potential Indian Springs Metropark drilling sites in the HCMA's October meeting packet available on www.metroparks.com. Find information on mineral rights leases on msue.anr.msu.edu/resources/oil_and_gas_development.

Clarkston News reporter
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