Gas Exploration in City Parks

Southern Star Exploration wants to do seismic work on city lands to look for oil and gas deposits. The company has agreed to pay the city $200,000 for the exploration rights and an additional 25 percent of royalties on any minerals produced.

Houston Development Officer Andy Icken says this is the first time the city has started such a venture.

"Of course the key question is who owns the mineral rights? And what we concluded after some of our internal research is we, in fact, did own the mineral rights in Herman Brown Park. They were given to us as part of the bequest of the entire park. And in fact, what the folks gave to us was a requirement that we do, if we get any resources pulled from the ground, reinvest them in the park itself."

While a couple of small tracts are located in Brock and Maxey Parks, most of the land in question is in Herman
Brown Park
. It's a thousand-acre site on the east side of town near where the 610 Loop intersects with I-10 East.

"The first condition we put is no drilling can occur on any city park land and that was part of my early conversations with the company. They have actually acquired private sites and they'll do what is described as horizontal drilling or slant drilling in the area. We have negotiated a 25 percent royalty payment, which is traditional in the business. And those proceeds will come to the city and be reinvested in Herman Brown Park."

Icken says it will take about a year before the seismic work is completed. At that point, they'll be able to tell whether the land does have gas or mineral deposits.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF News.


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