City gets continuance on oil wellPublished 12:08am Thursday, August 16, 2012
JACKSON — The Mississippi State Oil and Gas Board granted the City of Natchez’s request Wednesday for a 90-day continuance for the proposed Arlington oil well.
Mayor Butch Brown, who attended the board’s meeting, said RMB Exploration, the company owned by Mike Biglane that is proposing the oil well on historic Arlington property, opposed the continuance at the oil and gas board’s meeting Wednesday morning.
RMB conducted preliminary oil exploration on Arlington property in late 2011 and early January without completing the city’s approval process for the operation.
Brown cited issues last week with an agreement signed by Biglane and former mayor Jake Middleton on Dec. 29, 2011, and subsequently approved by the aldermen Jan. 10 as a reason for the city’s request for a continuance. The agreement was never included in the city’s record for aldermen meeting minutes.
Biglane appeared before the Natchez Preservation Commission in January for approval, which wasn’t granted at the time. Biglane never returned to the commission after the exploration resulted in a dry hole.
Biglane returned to the preservation commission in May with an amended application for a second proposed oil operation.
The oil well was denied by the Natchez preservation and planning commissions. The Natchez Board of Aldermen denied Biglane’s appeal to the preservation commission’s decision.
Biglane filed an application with the oil and gas board for authority to drill the well previously denied by the city. The city has suggested, Brown said, horizontal drilling at the site, which would be less of a disturbance to the property, but Brown said RMB contended at Wednesday’s meeting that horizontal drilling would be too expensive for the company.
RMB also argued that given the significant dilapidated condition of the Arlington house, the oil operation would not make much of a difference, Brown said.
“The issue (is) the open pits that have not been corrected and the danger to the people who live near them, especially their children,” Brown said.
City Attorney Hyde Carby said the city asked for a continuance because more than just city entities are involved in the Arlington matter, and the city did not have time to mobilize all the entities in time for Wednesday’s oil and gas board meeting.