Amite County, Mississippi, OKs fracking study

02 09, 2012 by The Times-Picayune

Amite County will study shale oil and gas development in southwest Mississippi. The Enterprise-Journal reports that supervisors voted this week to pay Wiggins-based Batson & Co. up to $4,000 for the study. It will focus on Tuscaloosa Shale production in Amite, Pike and Wilkinson counties.

The Tuscaloosa Shale is a large formation covering central Louisiana and parts of southwest Mississippi, and oil companies have been working it for months.

The work involves hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," a process that uses water, sand and other additives to free natural gas underground.

Pike County Economic Development District executive director Britt Herrin says there are hundreds of wells that could be drilled.

"There are a lot of players in the industry, This would turn our world upside down, mostly in good ways," Herrin said. "I would like to see our region profit by this."

Batson officials said the area is an emerging location in the U.S. for shale oil resources.

"Communities feel many impacts of the drilling and development activity and must bear the costs of a significant portion of these impacts. Because this activity differs from past oil and gas development, questions and concerns for the environment, water and other natural resources have arisen," Batson said in its report given supervisors.

While fracking has been successful in recovering oil and gas from shale other formations, there have been concerns over its impact on water supplies.

Herrin said there economic benefits from the drilling.

"We have one of the largest pipelines in the region coming through Liberty," Herrin said. "The infrastructure is already here, we just have to feed into it. I'm convinced this is a good practice for our environment."