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UNDATED, Miss. (WCBI)-Oil prospectors leasing land from the city of Caledonia have made some headlines in Lowndes County recently.

But the oil lease really isn’t anything new in North Mississippi.

Oil and gas companies have been nosing around for years, even if interest has picked up some in the last few years.

Just in Lowndes County alone, deeds and records indicate that there is an interest in leasing land for oil extraction.

With modern affordable technology and tax breaks for domestic exploration, it makes it worth the risk.

“Almost any oil and gas wells today, I think the number roughly runs around one in four are successful. And that’s much better than 20 and thirty years ago when it was like one and ten or one and twelve,” said Dr. Darrel Schmitz, MSU Geologist.

We live in the vicinity of the Black Warrior Belt and in the case of oil, we need more of it and will for the foreseeable future.

“What often plays into whether or not its produced or not or it becomes any worthwhile is economics. When oil prices are high then what wasn’t worth producing for less than twenty dollars a barrel is worth producing at one hundred,” said Dr. Schmitz.

A common but controversial process known as hydraulic fracking has made it cheaper to look for black gold in areas that were off limits.

Drillers force chemicals deep into the ground to break up rocks.

“And then in the fluid of sand grains that go into those cracks, so it can relieve the pressure, the sand grains holds the fracture open and by holding that fracture open it allows the oil trapped in that shell rock to come to those fractures. And then come to the well and can be produced. Pumped out that way,” said Schmitz.

Fracking has its critics.

But according to Schmitz, fracking occurs some 4 thousand feet below the surface when done in areas of Mississippi.

“And fresh water, ground water zones are less than one thousand feet. So you got sort of 1,000 feet of earth material and rock between where they are trying to fracture that rock and the surface,” said Schmitz.

Many oil and gas companies think there’s oil in Northeast Mississippi and West Alabama.

They say former underground natural gas pits and extensive coal mines make oil very likely.

It’s just a matter of when and if they get it out.

But they point to wells in West Tuscaloosa as reasons to believe.


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