Drilling scheduled for January start in remote parking

After months of discussion about drilling for natural gas on TCU grounds, the administration has a proposed date to begin work on a natural gas well.Four Sevens Oil Co. will be working in conjunction with TCU to tap into an underground, 260-acre oil tract in the Remote Parking lot north of Amon Carter Stadium. The lot is commonly called the overflow lot by students.

Drilling will commence Jan. 10, 2008, and the rig will run for seven months. The well cannot be active between August and January because of football season, according to an Aug. 7 press release from the university.

“There may be some weather complications during the winter months and we are not going to interfere with football,” Provost Nowell Donovan said.

The project will take place during seven-month blocks starting in 2008 and ending in 2010. After the drilling is complete, the drill site will be landscaped.

The press release outlined some problems that neighborhoods may have with the methane-gas well including noise pollution, visual aesthetics and the danger of explosion.

Tom Edwards, a gas well inspector for the city of Fort Worth, addressed these concerns.

“Gas pumps for your car are flammable and so are explosives and whatnot,” Edwards said.

The issue of noise pollution from an industrial structure has a set protocol that will be followed during operation of the well, Edwards said.

“We find out the ambient noise level of the area that naturally occurs in a 24-hour period,” Edwards said. “It can be five decibels louder than the ambient noise during the day and three decibels at night.”

One neighborhood member was not bothered by the thought of a gas well being set up a few blocks from home.

“(I’m) impartial, the drill sites are pretty far away,” said Ericka Bailey, a Stadium Drive resident.

The amount of revenue expected from the drilling cannot be disclosed due to an agreement reached between TCU and Four Sevens, Donovan said.

Donovan said he is not sure what percentage of the Four Sevens profits will be allotted to TCU, but there will be royalties that will go to the university.

The Board of Trustees decided by vote that the funds would be committed to the university endowment, which supports university functions and scholarships.

Before signing the deal with Four Sevens, Brian Gutierrez, TCU vice chancellor for finance and administration, and Don Mills, vice chancellor for student affairs, received input on the plan by holding a question and answer meeting with faculty, students and staff.

“The meetings were well attended and good questions were asked,” Gutierrez said. “These meetings were very positive and the input was very helpful.”

Gutierrez also worked with surrounding neighborhood association leaders to discuss the drilling. He said that these meetings collected helpful input.

TCU is not the only school with gas drilling plans as the University of Texas at Arlington and the Tarrant County College District have both made plans to begin drilling in the near future.

Staff reporter Caroline Lockwood, staff writer Stephanie Scott and associate editor Marcus Murphree contributed to this report.