Riverkeeper: Wetappo Creek exploratory well a no-go

The Apalachicola Riverkeeper is reporting that an attempt to
find oil and natural gas in northern Gulf County has been unsuccessful.

Apalachicola Riverkeeper Georgia Ackerman said last
month that the Bear Creek well that Spooner Petroleum was drilling in Gulf
County near the Wetappo Creek headwaters has come up dry.

Michal Spooner, president of Spooner Petroleum Company,
headquartered in Ridgeland, Mississippi, declined comment.

In August 2019, the company filed an application with the
Florida Department of Environmental Protection to drill an exploratory oil well
on a 4.79-acre site near Wetappo Creek and the western end of the Dead Lakes.

Wetappo Creek flows about 85 miles from its headwaters in
northern Gulf County down to East Bay of the St. Andrew Bay.

The area was included as part of seismic testing in 2016
searching for potential gas and oil deposits. In its 2019 application, Spooner proposed
to construct a dirt access road to the site and create a buffer one mile in
circumference around the drilling site.

The proposed Spooner well would be drilled on a
newly-constructed pad, 450 feet by 450 feet, designed to meet Northwest Florida
Water Management District stormwater requirements, according to the application

The land will be leased from the owner, Bear Creek Timber,
LLC. Spooner, which owns all mineral rights according to the application,
proposed to drill to a depth of almost 13,000 feet over the course of about
three weeks.

“The well (has been) permanently plugged, indicating a ‘dry hole’
with no prospect of commercially viable oil or gas,” said Ackerman.

Apalachicola Riverkeeper actively opposed the permit,
submitting formal comments to the state Department of Environmental Protection
at the onset of the permit process.

In 2018, Spooner Petroleum drilled an exploratory oil
and gas well in Calhoun County in the Apalachicola River Basin, that also came
up dry, Ackerman said.

She said that Cholla Petroleum, of Dallas, Texas, has six
active permits for exploratory oil and gas drilling in Calhoun County, although
drilling has not yet begun.

“Apalachicola Riverkeeper remains opposed to oil and gas
drilling in the Apalachicola River floodplain and continues to monitor permit
activity in the region,” reads the environmental group’s website. “Additionally,
oil and gas prospecting in the state of Florida should be strongly curtailed
with policies and resources focused on water protection and the reduction of
greenhouse gases contributing to climate change.”

“The development of oil and gas in this area threatens the
basic quality of life due to the high risk of pollution of the surface and
groundwater, subsidence of coastal plain, air quality, and community character,”
read the Riverkeeper’s opposition to the original permit. “Exploratory wells
bring the risk of releasing harmful chemicals into the wetlands and rivers. A
period of heavy rain could be disastrous if it carries toxins into the river

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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