Morgan County put on map for natural gas

Morgan County put on map for natural gas

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"Oil and gas people are coming from all over the country, even all over the world, and looking at this part of the country," says Scott Gilbert, president of the Tennessee Oil and Gas Association. "Oil and gas people are coming from all over the country, even all over the world, and looking at this part of the country," says Scott Gilbert, president of the Tennessee Oil and Gas Association.

By WHITNEY HOLMES
6 News Anchor/Reporter

MORGAN COUNTY (WATE) -- Morgan County is now on the radar of international investors.

"Oil and gas people are coming from all over the country, even all over the world, and looking at this part of the country," says Scott Gilbert, president of the Tennessee Oil and Gas Association.

The investors are coming because of a new style of drilling that has split the area wide open for natural gas opportunities.

"It's like the dot-com boom of the '90s, but the bust won't come like the '90s," Gilbert says.

With the rising costs of natural gas, CNX Gas Corp. invested in this new type of drilling
called ‘horizontal drilling.'

The drilling method costs about five times more than conventional techniques, but it has the potential to extract much more gas for decades to come.

Gilbert says CNX's financial gamble paid off. "The production in Tennessee could very easily double or triple or even more than that in the next few years."

The old style of drilling would drill straight into the Chattanooga shale, which is rock that holds natural gas. The new style drills down and then cuts horizontally through the shale, increasing the amount of gas that can be extracted by as much as 40 times.

"Your well is getting through 2,000 feet of gas-producing shale, as opposed to 45 feet in a conventional vertical well," Gilbert says. "You're able to recover a higher number of natural gas in the ground."

More gas means more money for the local economy.

Last year, before the new wells, Morgan County produced a quarter of the state's natural gas. That pumped $1 million into the county.

Now, as more companies plan to drill their own horizontal wells, that number looks like it will skyrocket.

There are about five horizontal wells in Tennessee, with that number soon to double.

"It'll create more production, more jobs, more taxes to state, and more income to landowners. At today's prices, eight to ten wells like this will create over a million dollars in landowner royalties," Gilbert says.

Gilbert says this style of drilling is also better for the environment because one drill can extract as much gas as ten conventional wells.

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