The deep well site sits quietly 49 years after the his-
toric deep well drill, in a pastoral meadow owned by
Judge Larry Whited, who enjoys his remote holdings ...

... with a long view across the Calhoun hills,
the higher peak likely the county's highest spot
Mule Knob, we wait for the next boom (or bust)

By Bob Weaver

Natural gas production has lifted a number of regional counties to financial heights, but the various drilling booms, mostly in the Utica seam, have left Calhoun County pretty cold.

It was a history making deep well drill in Calhoun in 1974 when a conglomerate of large corporate drillers, Exxon, Gulf and others, located a site on a hilltop between the Mt. Zion Ridge (Rt. 16) and lower Pine Creek Road.

It was announced as an experimental project to reach the Upper Devonian/Marcellus Shale, over three miles down.

Drilling crews from Texas and other states came to the remote site, the companies setting up a small, self-supporting village with a number of local residents living in bunk houses as support workers, one saying, "They cooked the best food I've even eaten."

After months of drilling, locals say the well "came in" with a powerful eruption that shook the earth, causing pictures to fall from house walls in the Village of Hur, a couple of miles away.

The depth of the well was 20,222 feet.

Sources reported the natural gas blew the well head off.

Officially, as the well was plugged, the conglomerate announced it was a "dry hole ,with gas and oil show." Its well-head sitting in the middle of a lonesome meadow, likely waiting another century when natural gas supplies diminish.

In the early 2000s there appeared to be a deep well boom in the county, with royalty buyers lining up at the County Courthouse, getting rights, with a hundred drilling permits issued.

With drillers hitting "gold" in the lesser shale, and the development of horizontal drilling, it never happened.

The folks in this part of the world are aware that deep in the earth is a vast deposit of natural gas, waiting.

2002: DEEP WELL DREAMS - Resting In The Stars

(Hur Herald - 6/27/2002) Thirty years have passed since one of West Virginia's first experimental wells was drilled at Mount Zion, Calhoun County. Local residents remember the secrecy when Exxon and Consolidated Gas Supply erected the giant rig between Route 16 and Pine Creek.

Even more memorable was the companies denial of hitting gas, thus lowering expectations. Local residents remember explosive booms from the site, knocking pictures from the wall. The nearly two year project, reaching deep in the earth 20,000 feet, was essentially declared a dry hole. Few believed the denials.

Now, in 2002, a search for potential deep well sites in Calhoun appears to have peaked with about 200 locations. The county has been a hotbed of research for the past three years, the County Clerk's record room filled with elbow-to-elbow abstracters. The room is empty now.

Seismic earth thumpers and high-tech researchers strung miles of lines and connected hundreds of devices, covering every inch of the county, prognosticating where the best pockets might be. Hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe millions, have been spent "looking."

Sitting without connection to the outside world, Calhoun's first deep wells sit idly near Nobe Road and on Route 5 near Grantsville. No announcement has been made regarding the status, but some reports say they it not turn out well.

Some drillers say they were too cautious, drilling "overbalanced." The mud suspension which is used to keep the gas from blowing out may have gotten into the formation, sealing off the supply. The Ardent project on Rt. 16 was reportedly doing well, but something happened toward the end of drilling, although it is unconfirmed.

See   THUMPERS RETURNING TO CALHOUN - Outfits Surveying Marcellus Shale Pockets