Oil, gas news is promising

12 14, 2011 by Monroe News Star

One of the poorest areas of the country may actually be sitting atop of a source of wealth.

East Carroll Parish is the latest location of mineral speculation as new technologies have provided a way to extract oil and natural gas from geologic layers previously not profitable.

A surge of mineral leasing for the "Lower Smackover" formation could bring business and job opportunities, according to Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Secretary Scott Angelle.

Angelle said more than 6,000 acres of state-owned land in East Carroll were leased this fall in connection with what is referred to as the "Brown Dense" or "Lower Smackover" prospect.

That's a Jurassic-age layer of shale and limestone, called "dirty shale," at the base of the Smackover, a well-known geologic formation that has long been a source for oil and natural gas. In fact, the world-famous Monroe Gas Field discovered in the early 1900s is part of that geologic layer.

"A lot of work remains in permitting, testing and drilling before anyone can estimate how successful this play will be or how much will be invested there," Angelle said. "However, the level of interest brings the potential for new economic activity." The process drills 8,000 to 11,000 feet down and then horizontally into the formation. Then, water and sand are injected under high pressure into the formation in a process called fracking. Fracking opens up the formation so the trapped oil and gas resources can be released and extracted economically.

We've all probably read something about the dramatic speculation that occurred in northwestern Louisiana as leasing activity for the Haynesville Shale formation grabbed every available area of that region. While that type of frenzy isn't something we anticipate in the Mississippi Delta — unless the exploration strikes — we do see the spinoff economic benefit, albeit possibly temporary, that companies exploring in the region can provide.

In East Carroll Parish, we're happy to see the interest. Every dollar from an outside source means