Source: Sherman Publications

Groveland Township seismic testing

by Susan Bromley

July 11, 2012

Groveland Twp.- Seismic testing, often used to predict earthquake or volcanic activity, is being conducted in the township.

While this area isn’t known for earthquakes nor volcanoes, the tests conducted by West Bay Geophysical can also be used to determine whether there is oil or natural gas in specific locations, and these are the resources the Traverse City-based company hopes to find here.

Keith Schaub, field supervisor for West Bay Geophysical, declined to comment on the company’s activities in the township, citing concerns about competitors in the oil industry. A call to Jim Bowser, director of operations for West Bay, was not immediately returned. However, Groveland Township Clerk Pam Mazich forwarded correspondence from West Bay regarding the seismic survey and signed by Schaub and permit agent Larry Garvin. out the township including Wildwood Road, Jossman Road, Barron Road and Van Road.

“They are testing with vibrations to tell where the natural gas is,” said Mazich. “They just told us they were coming in, they didn’t have to request permission.”

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently sold at auction state-owned gas and oil rights to more than 108,000 acres in 23 counties. According to news reports, in Oakland County, Jordan Development Company purchased the mineral rights to 17,600 acres and Pteradon Energy purchased the rights to 664 acres.

More than a third of township land is state or county-owned, Mazich said. West Bay has been conducting the seismic survey over the course of the last few weeks, which, according to West Bay Geophysical’s letter to the township, involves placing sensors alongside the road and sending an acoustical signal into the ground via a vibratory tractor.

“Information gathered is used to create an acoustic map of the subsurface as an aid in defining the local geology,” the letter read.

Mazich said the township has no input over West Bay’s activity. To her knowledge, they can not drill on the state-owned land, but since they purchased the mineral rights, they could negotiate with private property owners and drill on residential land to access petroleum or natural gas on state land. Mazich said residents have voiced concerns about fracking— a means of natural gas extraction. If drilling is done horizontally, chemicals may be used that are hazardous to the environment.

“I am concerned about all of it,” said Mazich. “I hope the residents are conscientious. I’m worried about any kind of drilling because we are all on wells out here. I’m concerned about our water supply.”

A spokesperson for the DNR could not be immediately reached for comment.

Mazich confirmed that the seismic testing is being conducted in areas through