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Oil leasing continues as exploration projected about three years from now

Those old enough to remember the hit comedy series “The Beverly Hillbillies” might recall that the patriarch of the Clampett Clan, Jed, was out “shooting’ up at some food when up from the ground came a bubblin’ crude.”

Unfortunately, oil (that is ‘Texas tea and black gold’) isn’t quite that available about the Northern Neck of Virginia.  But those currently seeking it believe there is some under our terra firma but getting it might be an economic gamble.

In the oil business it is called “wildcatting” and it is somewhat synonymous with putting a $50 bet on the Virginia Lottery’s Mega Million in hopes of hitting the jackpot.  However, Stan Sherrill, land manager of the Shore Exploration and Production Corp., which is hunting the precious fossil fuel in King George, thinks it’s worth it.

“(Famous oil baron) H. L. Hunt once said ‘Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work’,” Sherrill said.  “But he also said a lot about wild catting and finding dry holes.”

According to Sherrill, “there is something down there” and the company is currently seeking leases from property owners in the greater King George area to explore the possibility of gaining it.  But - and it is a big “but” - the issue is how much and how deep.

“Nothing is for certain,” said Sherrill as he described the Taylorsville Basin area that roughly covers the counties of King George, Caroline, Westmoreland and Hanover, where geologists believe the oil is located.

“The area - Taylorsville Basin - was once a giant rift lake that began more than 200 million years ago,” he said.  “It was somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 to 14,000 feet deep and it was a natural collection point of the plants and animals that existed in the Triassic Era.”

Sherrill explained that “if you’ve ever gone out to a pond and stepped out of a boat, then sunk down knee deep in the ooze at the bottom, well, that’s the very beginning of what will become oil in a couple of million years … it is the plants and animals, in this case even dinosaurs that have sunk to the bottom and over time and pressure have become oil.”

And to successfully drill for it means going many thousands of feet down under the surface of King George’s earth crust.

This is not the first time oil has been sought in the Northern Neck’s gateway. In 1990 an experimental well was dug near the Ninde Post Office.  However, then, the goal of producing the oil was outweighed by the cost of recovering it.

“But back then oil was selling at about $35 a barrel,” Sherrill said, “so times have certainly changed with the cost of a barrel today.”

Accordingly, the oil company will be seeking more leases in the area from King George property owners; only don’t get too excited if, like poor mountaineer Jed Clampett, you’re just an owner of one, or two acres. Shore Exploration and Production Corp. is looking more at those who are in double figures when it comes to land. Property owners will get $15 dollars an acre for the lease and an eighth of any precious fuel (natural gas or oil) that is produced.

The company plans to continue garnering leases for another three years before exploratory drilling will begin.

Doug Davant

 

 

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