CALHOUN RESTS ON "POCKETS OF GOLD" - Will Meek Inherit The Wealth?


By Bob Weaver

The deepest well ever drilled in West Virginia is in Calhoun, an experimental well drilled to a depth of 20,222 feet in 1974 between the Mt. Zion Ridge and Pine Creek.

The deep well drilling "boom" has yet to happen in the county, with reports saying the couple of holes that have been drilled were not good producers. One company, Ardent, went bankrupt.

At least 200 deep well permits were issued for the county, not drilled.

Most all of the drilling has been done under 15,000 feet.

What lies below may well be the state's treasure trove in this century.

Calhoun, among other counties, is likely sitting on one of the east coast's biggest deposits of natural gas, yet to be extracted.

Unfortunately, Calhoun, one of America's 100 poorest counties, will benefit little from the extraction.

With a century of complicated maneuvering by the extractors, supported by politicians, legislators and their rule making, there is little reward for local stakeholders.

Despite all the controversy about the $4+ million verdict against Chesapeake Energy, regional courthouses are busy places, with agents seeking royalty and preparing permits.

Since the settlement that affected their pocketbooks, Chesapeake Energy, the nation's third largest gas producer, has variously threatened to leave the state, saying they will not build a promised multi-million dollar office complex in Charleston, but maybe they will.

That issue was over charging production costs to the owners of royalty.

The WV legislature has approved measures that delay the reporting of production, and therefore taxing.

Calhoun County had 72 oil and natural gas permits issued in 2006.

Permits in neighboring counties: Ritchie, 274; Roane, 69; Wirt, 9; Clay, 51; Gilmer, 38; Braxton, 54.

Gas production from Calhoun wells in 2005 was given at 3,624,451 mcf, with 104,639 barrels of oil.

2005 gas production in neighboring counties (mcf): Ritchie 8,817,091; Gilmer 6,277,711; Roane 3,708,919; Braxton 2,933,864; Clay 2,779,025; Wirt 489,382.

West Virginia plays a major role in the storage of natural gas, meeting the energy needs of the northeastern states.

The sale of natural gas in WV brought $6.4 billion in 2003.

Dominion Transmission operates one of the largest underground storage systems - 750 billion cubic feet. The state has 10,000 miles of pipeline.

See also Deep Well Dreams

Seventy-Four Deep Well Permits Issued

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