WMU News

High gas prices could boost Michigan oil exploration

Feb. 18, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- High oil prices have motorists grumbling, but the high price of gas could actually be a boon to Michigan's oil industry.

More expensive gas, coupled with such advances in oil drilling technology as horizontal drilling, could boost oil production in Michigan, says Dr. William Harrison, a WMU professor of geosciences and director of the Michigan Center for the Petroleum Technology Transfer Council.

"It's typically an economic decision," Harrison says, "and if the technology can be proven to be more effective and have a higher success rate, such as this horizontal drilling is showing, then it encourages companies to do that.

Says Harrison, "When the price of oil is only $10 a barrel, like it was about 10 months ago, it just didn't make it realistic -- companies had to find too large a quantities of oil. And since a lot of oil has already been produced in Michigan, it's not easy to find those large amounts anymore. As the prices come back up, mainly because of the cut in supply and the increased demand, it has made it more attractive for Michigan operators."

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 616 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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