Oil in Unexpected Places and Energy Prices - New York City, New York
Everyone's concerned about energy prices and they're worried about where American's energy supplies will come from in the future. While the answers can sometimes be bleak, there are some unexpected options that can increase American supplies of petroleum and natural gas. Believe it or not, there are plenty of people in the U.S. extracting fossil fuels from their own backyards. In this way, individuals can provide for their own energy needs while making a little bit of money for themselves. But how is it done, and what are the risks and benefits?
It may seem counterintuitive, but fossil fuel deposits can be found under the ground in almost every part of the United States. While coal mining on the backyard level may not be feasible, deposits can be found in Appalachia, the West, Midwest and even in Texas. Petroleum, good old crude oil, can be found in many places in Texas, California and Alaska. Natural gas is even more plentiful; some of the top 100 natural gas fields are located in far-north Montana and Michigan. Natural gas, however, is often found alongside other fossil fuels, so the places with the greatest deposits are the usual suspects: Texas and California.
Mineral rights are a crucial concept to the story. It makes sense that the fossil fuels and other valuable products of the earth could be extracted and pulled from a private individual's property. A homeowner, however, does not automatically have the mineral rights for the resources located under the land. There are other leasing arrangements that can be made that provide the homeowner and municipality with a royalty: a share of the oil and gas revenue a company earns from the sale of the material they withdraw. If a homeowner is interested in exploiting their property's mineral wealth, it's probably a good idea to consult an attorney specializing in the field.
A USA Today article reports the pros and cons of neighborhood natural gas production. The rigs are approximately 130 feet tall and emit an "airplane-engine hum punctuated by screeches and periodic clouds of smoke." After thirty days, however, drilling is done and all that remains is a 6-foot-high wellhead. Once the drilling is done, of course, municipalities and individuals receive royalty and lease payments in addition to the energy required to power their stoves and water heaters.
Municipal and individual fossil fuel extraction is also a way to help contribute to the favorable resolution of an issue that will determine a great deal of American policy in the coming half-century: energy independence. Every drop of oil or liter of natural gas taken from under American soil is one that doesn't have to be imported from other countries. Additionally, the higher the supply of oil and natural gas, the lower the price will be, provided demand remains the same.
Big problems require solutions both big and small. Individual and municipal oil and natural gas drilling is just one way to contribute to a future filled with the reasonably priced energy to keep the American economy on track.