Oil and gas board grants 90-day continuance for Arlington

Published 11:41 am Wednesday, August 15, 2012

JACKSON — The Mississippi State Oil and Gas Board has granted the City of Natchez’s request for a 90-day continuance for the proposed Arlington oil well.

Mayor Butch Brown 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 this morning.

The city, Brown said, has suggested horizontal drilling at the site, which would be less of a disturbance to the property, but Brown said RMB contended that horizontal drilling would be too expensive for the company.

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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 city informed the oil and gas board, Brown said, that significant artifacts had been removed from the house by the Historic Natchez Foundation, and the city has made improvements to the house.

Brown said the city reminded the board that the city is not opposed to drilling on Arlington property, it is only opposed to the manner in which RMB has proposed the drilling.

“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. “The issue would be having the drilling operation sitting there, and not drilling horizontally.”

Brown also 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. The agreement was never included in the city’s record for aldermen meeting minutes.

City Attorney Hyde Carby said last week 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 today’s oil and gas board meeting. The entities, Carby said, include the National Park Service, the Mississippi Heritage Trust and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.