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Status report on Antrim drilling in Manistee, Benzie, and Leelanau counties
April 1, 1998 | By Keith Schneider
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service
In the year since the first Antrim natural gas well was drilled near Cedar, in Leelanau County west of The new exploration reflects the increasing economic vigor of the industry. Financial returns from Antrim Mason Co. Leases Fairgrounds, Airport CONTACTS:
State geologists and industry representatives are unclear about what this activity means. Leelanau never
The expense of installing an Antrim well is relatively low. Leases generally are negotiated for less than
However there is more financial risk for producers in drilling for Antrim gas on the northwestern side of
For example, in 1994 leasing agents raced through Manistee County after two unusually productive
... Action Taken Despite Health and Safety Risks
The decision came at a February Board of Commissioners meeting in Ludington, which attracted supporters and opponents of the leasing proposal. Despite calls from citizens to hold a public hearing on the matter, county officials accepted the oil company's offer and directed a subcommittee to negotiate the terms of the lease.
Local oil and gas workers spoke out in favor of the proposal, saying that if the county elected not to lease the minerals it would send the wrong message to an industry that provides local jobs and revenues to the community.
Staff of the Institute and local residents urged county officials to postpone the lease sale until a full analysis of the costs and benefits could be completed, including a comprehensive evaluation of the potential health and safety risks.
The drilling would tap the Niagaran reef, a deep oil and gas producing deposit that in Mason and other nearby counties contains dangerous hydrogen sulfide gas. A 1996 accident from a well in Parkdale caused eleven Manistee County residents to be hospitalized and left two people with permanent respiratory damage.
In addition to safety concerns, citizens asked the county commissioners to consider the potential effects of noise, odor, and truck traffic on the public's ability to enjoy the fairgrounds.
Instead of considering these issues, county officials deferred to the state Department of Environmental Quality to protect public health and safety and reduce nuisances. The DEQ currently is working on developing new safety standards for hydrogen sulfide, but there is no assurance that they will be in effect before the wells at issue are drilled. (See the article on page 16.)
The county lease brought an average of $56.37 per acre, a sum opponents say is too low. Citizens point to an auction last December of state-owned minerals in adjacent Oceana County, which averaged more than $100 an acre with some bids reaching as high as $1,000 an acre.
The new exploration reflects the increasing economic vigor of the industry. Financial returns from Antrim
Mason Co. Leases Fairgrounds, Airport