A Michigan Department of Natural Resources proposal to lease Great Lakes bottomlands for oil and gas development has prompted a lot of discussion regarding the risks and benefits of drilling near the Great Lakes. As Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Michael Barratt explains, those resources can be developed now in an environmentally safe manner:
A Michigan Department of Natural Resources proposal to lease Great Lakes bottomlands for oil and gas development has prompted a lot of discussion regarding the risks and benefits of drilling near the Great Lakes. As commentator Michael Barratt reveals, those resources can be developed now in an environmentally safe manner.
People around the Great Lakes have seen quantum jumps in the price of energy within the last few months. Gasoline prices in Michigan for example are approaching $2.00/ gallon, natural gas prices have increased 40-60%, and propane prices have increased markedly.
Since Michigan only produces 4% of its crude oil demand and 30% of its natural gas demand, we need to find ways to both conserve and maintain our energy supply.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has proposed to lease land under the Great Lakes for the purpose of drilling wells from onshore locations. The proposed procedures require new wells to be located at least 1,500′ from the shoreline. They also require that sites be screened, and no drilling is to be permitted in dune areas, floodplains, or environmentally sensitive areas.
Additional wells drilled under Great Lakes waters may encounter significant reserves to help Michigan have a secure energy supply. Using a safe and proven technology known as directional drilling, it is possible to reach and produce these reserves with little to no effect on the surrounding areas. There have been 13 wells drilled under Great Lakes waters from onshore locations since 1979. Seven of those wells, which are still producing, have produced 439,000 barrels of oil and more than 17 billion cubic feet of gas. There have been no spills, accidents, or incidents associated with the wells since they have been drilled.
New wells drilled under Great Lakes waters, if drilling is allowed , could produce an additional 90 billion cubic feet of gas, and 2 million barrels of oil; enough to heat more than 1 million homes and fuel 157,500 cars for a year. We now have a window of opportunity to use existing infrastructure associated with the currently producing wells to develop some of the additional reserves under the Great Lakes. Drilling pads, roads, pipelines, and production facilities are in place that can be used to drill new wells under the Great Lakes.
Besides energy security, the people of Michigan benefit from royalties paid to the State of Michigan. That money is put into the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to develop and extend parks, and to purchase wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas. The seven wells currently producing have contributed more than $16,000,000 to the Fund. Additional wells drilled under the Great Lakes could contribute another $85,000,000-$100,000,000
Let’s develop the State’s Bottomland resources now in a safe and environmentally friendly way to ensure that Great Lakes waters and shorelines can be enjoyed by future generations and also to make sure we have the energy supplies here to maintain our quality of life.