Drilling operations are expected to begin within days after preliminary tests show that Water Valley is sitting atop a large pocket of natural gas.
Bill Browning, a former professor of geological ergonomics, announced this morning that he is reasonably sure that the Water Valley Pocket is one of the largest in north Mississippi.
“My data indicates that the pocket stretches from just north of the city to just south of the Crawford Sports Complex,” Browning explained at a news conference in front of the Railroad Park Pavilion, the likely drilling site.
Crews from the Abbott Oil and Gas Company, LLC of Costello, Texas, are already in route and are expected to arrive this afternoon. The company will set up temporary headquarters along Main Street in modular offices that resemble large mobile homes.
“We’re excited about the find and we look forward to being a part of the Water Valley community said Robert Abbott, founding partner of the Texas based firm. “We hope to cause minimal disruption during the drilling operation.”
Abbot will appear before the city board tonight at their regular meeting and ask for permission to close Main Street from Panola to Wood. The first phase of the drilling operation is expected to be completed by April 1, 2009.
Traffic will have to be diverted temporarily during the drilling phase, but one lane will be open sometime during the summer of 2009.
Northbound traffic on Main Street will turn left at Panola, right onto Henry Place, right on Wagner, left on Duncan, right on Church and right onto Main to access businesses in the section of Main from Wood to Church. There will be no left turns allowed for traffic emerging from Church onto Main.
Other northbound traffic on Main will turn onto Blackmur Drive to Simmons where vehicles will be directed to turn left and go to Wood Street where drivers will turn left again to Railroad Street and then right. When traffic reaches Martin Street, it will be allowed to go either left, right or straight ahead.
Southbound traffic will be allowed, but officials suggest drivers consider avoiding the downtown area entirely and take the Hwy. 7 bypass around the city.
If you insist on driving southbound, the route will be Main Street to Church, left to Herring, right to Wagner, left to Jackson, left to Panola and then right onto Main.
However, officials have cautioned that the possibility of congestion could cause delays and it may be better to just walk to the downtown area.
Abbott said that he would present a complete plan of operation to the board tonight as well as their court approved evacuation procedures in the unlikely event of problems during drilling.
“We had to hire a safety consultant after an incident in the former town of Arnold,” Abbott commented. “Our evacuation plan is state of the art and will allow most residents to escape if the well releases fumes or explodes.”
Although the operations will cause some minor inconveniences, the economic impact on the city will be considerable, Abbott added. “Our employees will be purchasing lunch most days at local businesses.”
Tax revenue from the operation will run into the hundreds of dollars over the expected five to ten year life of the well.