City gets continuance on Arlington well

Published 12:01 am Thursday, November 29, 2012

NATCHEZ — The Mississippi State Oil and Gas Board granted the City of Natchez a 60-day continuance Wednesday on a hearing regarding the Arlington oil well.

Mayor Butch Brown attended the meeting and requested the continuance to allow the city, the oil company RMB Exploration and all other interested entities more time to come to a compromise on the proposed well on the historic property.

The oil and gas board granted the city a 90-day continuance in August.

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RMB Exploration conducted preliminary oil exploration on Arlington property in late 2011 and early January without completing the city’s approval process for the operation.

The company has now sought approval from the state board.

Mike Biglane with RMB Exploration 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 has said, horizontal drilling at the site, which would be less of a disturbance to the property.

Brown said the main reason the city requested the continuance was to allow Biglane to work with the Historic Natchez Foundation on revised plans for the oil well that can be submitted to the preservation and planning commissions.

Executive Director Mimi Miller said she has been working with Biglane and progress has been made on the plans. She said, for example, Biglane has agreed to relocate the oil tank farm off Arlington property.

Miller said she agrees with Brown that it is important that the oil well operation goes through the proper channels of city approval, and the commissions are provided with complete plans.

Other entities also have an interest in the outcome, Brown said, including the National Park Service, the Mississippi Heritage Trust and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.