Thursday, July 23, 2015

Seismic exploration for oil and gas underway in Mohave County

A seismic exploration company is carrying out a geophysical exploration program in Golden Valley in Mohave County to assess the potential for oil and gas deposits.    The company's  'thumper' trucks [right, credit Nodal Seismic] send vibrations into the ground which bounce off different geologic units and are recorded at the surface by seismic sensors.    The seismic signals provide a map of the shape and nature of rocks in the subsurface.

According to news reports, California based Nodal Seismic is collecting the seismic data for what I interpreted to be a 'spec' survey.  In other words they would not be "shooting" the seismic data (a historical term when dynamite was used to send the signals into the ground) for an oil company client but would collect it in order to sell it to petroleum companies to generate interest in the oil and gas potential of the area.    

Update 7-24-15, 8am: Since I wrote this, I understand Vanterra Energy may have an agreement with another company that would earn an interest in their leased acreage by funding the seismic acquisition and drilling of an exploratory well.

An article in the Kingman Daily Miner quoted residents as worrying about the impact of hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking' on their groundwater.   First, this is only a geophysical exploration program.  No one has proposed drilling any wells.  And even if wells were drilled, hydraulic fracturing is a technique that is used in only certain geologic environments.  We have not seen anything to suggest that geology in Golden Valley would be suitable for fracking.

The Arizona Oil & Gas Conservation Commission permits and regulates all oil and gas drilling and would specifically have to approve any hydraulic fracturing operations.

So, don't panic.   There are a lot of 'ifs' before any of this would lead to drilling or development.   There have been over 1,100 wells drilled for oil and gas in Arizona and only a handful ever produced and they are on the Navajo Reservation just on the border with Utah.

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