Welcome to the Carroll County Gusher
Will Carroll County residents find a lot to gush about in the days ahead?
No doubt. And, I hope CCGusher.com becomes the place for a continuous flow of good news and helpful information.
Life in Carroll County is changing with the influx of oil rigs, people, businesses, money and more traffic than our two-lane roads were designed to carry. Many of us have worked for years to rejuvenate the downtown areas in our communities, attract businesses and enhance local facilities. We have mourned the closing of each mom and pop store and wondered if the remaining local businesses can survive in the shadows of the discount stores and trendy restaurants in the nearby cities.
When information started slipping out about the Utica oil play, I thought, “No big news.” Little oil pumps have dotted the fields of Carroll County for many years. But, before long, the events, facts and figures started to create a different picture and I realized the news is big and the stakes are high.
Let’s rewind the tape and look at what’s happened over recent months. It seems like just yesterday that oil company agents started to knock on doors with offers to lease property mineral rights. The leases included royalty payments for any oil produced. Over time, the signing bonuses escalated from $50 to $5,800 per acre. The royalty terms increased from 12 percent of net revenue to 20 percent of gross revenue. As my Italian grandmother would say, “Mama Mia!”
The ink was barely dry on the early leases, when letters from out-of-state speculators arrived with offers to purchase the oil royalties on already leased land. Many of the letters came before wells were drilled and before anyone knew if oil would be found.
Currently, representatives of large and small companies are cruising our streets looking for land and buildings for businesses that serve the oil companies, hotels, restaurants and other concerns. Local residents, involved in the discussions, say price seldom seems to be a matter, but speed is a mandate.
How big and how important is Carroll County oil? One news story reported that the oil in this part of Ohio is estimated to be twice the amount found in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. When I repeated the estimate to someone close to the action, he shook his head and said, “No, they tell me it’s much bigger than that . . . and of the highest quality.”
Those of us who have been praying for an improved economy feel like we’ve hit the lottery of answered prayers . . . and then some. It’s the and-then-some that contains the challenges. The prospect of abundant new, good paying jobs and large royalty checks is reason to give thanks. The hope that a nice portion of the oil money will be spent in local shops; provide more local jobs and go to support Carroll County churches, nonprofit organizations, schools, the arts and recreational projects sounds good, too. The challenge will be to cope with the kind and speed of changes that accompany oil exploration.
Carroll County is not the first area of the country to have an oil boom in recent years. Communities in North Dakota and Pennsylvania have already experienced a lot of what is coming to Carroll County. Folks in those areas have had some practice in living and working in the midst of change. I’m curious if, and then how, they have learned to ride the rapids of change without being pulled under by the fast current of the river. I have already made contacts in some North Dakota communities and plan to make contacts in Pennsylvania, too. I want to talk with businessmen and women, educators, clergy, nonprofit board members and others to learn about the opportunities, challenges and solutions they found to the new realities. How have the everyday lives of kids, adults and seniors been affected?
What will be the environmental consequences of drilling here at home? Many studies are underway, but solid evidence is still not available. Some residents fear drilling will contaminate our water supply and that disposing of fracking water (the water used in the drilling process) in deep underground wells, will cause earthquakes.
Proponents of drilling are cheering the economic and environmental benefits of an abundant and affordable supply of clean burning natural gas. They predict the payback will come in the form of more manufacturing jobs for American workers, the production of fertilizer for farmers, lower heating costs for homes and a cleaner environment.
Auto manufacturers are introducing cars and trucks that run on compressed natural gas (CNG). CNG sells for about half the cost of gasoline. Two companies are opening nationwide CNG fueling stations, and consumers can use existing natural gas pipelines to install home refueling stations in their own garages.
Carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by 50 percent when coal-fired power plants switch to natural gas. Gas also has lower emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and virtually no emission of mercury. The result is a reduction of acid rain, smog and soot particles in the air.
If the oil deep in the ground below us is as abundant as some report, will it help reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil and the price we now pay for gasoline? Can we have it all without losing all that is good about small town living?
I want to know and I’m sure you do, too. That’s why I have established CCGusher.com. I will search for relevant information and present it in what I hope will be quick and easy-to-read articles. In the days ahead I expect to provide a collage of thoughts, occurrences, opportunities and perspective. I’m hopeful that, by sharing information and learning from others, we will be able to make the most of the challenges. I’m also hopeful we will find much to celebrate.
If you have news about economic developments, businesses openings, the availability of jobs; or questions or ideas for future articles, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Linda Cinson Faa