By Bob Weaver

Some say it is unbelievable. Calhoun County this week has 74 deep wells permitted in the 280 square mile area, largely topping any other county in West Virginia. County Clerk Richard Kirby says it has not slowed down. "The record room is crowded. It's hard to find space to place a folder," he said.

Kirby said it is possible several of those receiving permits could be drilled, but most will end up protecting their interests.

During the past two years the county has been studied and re-studied by researchers. They have covered the county foot by foot, by land and air.

The county is likely a hotbed of development because the original, experimental deep well was drilled at Mount Zion in the early 70's. Further research has led to validation of the promising Trenton-Black formation. A corridor crosses the county into Ritchie County which is also getting some permits, along with Wood County.

Investors at that time down-played the well, essentially saying it was not productive, although residents near the well heard numerous explosions from gas pockets loud enough to "shake the berries off grandma's hat."

Curiously, Wirt has yet to receive a permit. Wirt Commission President Lention Offutt says the record room at the Clerk's office has been elbow-to-elbow.

Meanwhile, drilling goes on at both deep well locations in Calhoun. The outcome on these wells will set the pace for further development. Today, issues regarding deep well drilling may be raised at the West Virginia Economic Summit at Flatwoods.

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