News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

July 18, 2014

Pioneer Oil tests soil on west side of ISU

Plans additional wells

TERRE HAUTE — A test drilling site on Wolf Field at Indiana State University is expected to be removed within a week.

The site is enabling Pioneer Oil “to take core samples to determine the specific geological structure on the west side of the campus,” said Steve Miller, chief financial officer for Lawrenceville, Ill.-based Pioneer Oil. “That will give us information as to whether there may be a productive zone that extends to that area.

“We have done seismic testing, which gave us some information about [an oil] reservoir, but we are now looking for more specific information” with the test bore “to get actual core samples,” Miller said.

The test site, which can be seen along North Third Street, just south of Chestnut Street, is expected to be removed within a week. Pioneer Oil, Miller said, will plug up the test bore and return the surface to its prior use as a student recreational field.

Test bores are being made to 1,700 feet.

If Pioneer Oil determines the area may be an oil productive zone, it can install a new oil rig to drill down vertically, then turn and go horizontally to that area, Miller said.

Diann McKee, ISU vice president for business affairs/finance and university treasurer, said Pioneer Oil’s permit through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, allows the company to have up to four oil wells on ISU property at 10th and Chestnut Street. The company currently has one oil rig in place.

Indiana State has an agreement with Pioneer Oil that calls for royalty payments of at least 15 percent for all oil products that are produced. Payments are to be placed in a dedicated fund for maintenance and capital improvement projects at the university.

Overall, it’s “is a good site,” Miller said. “The first well is a productive well and it is encouraging enough that we will be drilling an additional well or two this summer,” Miller said.

“We would anticipate it would be productive for 10 plus years,” Miller said.

Several other oil wells have sprung into operation around Terre Haute since the 2011 discovery of oil from CountryMark on property along Hunt Street between U.S. 40 and Indiana 42.

Indiana ranks 24th in the nation in oil production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, with much of that coming from the Illinois basin, which is under much of the Wabash Valley. Terre Haute rests atop a pocket of oil called the Terre Haute Reef.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.

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