Jul 13, 2011 11:14 PM by Shawn Kline
Experts say Louisiana could be on the edge of a new oil boom.
A 2.7-million acre oil and gas play stretching across 21 parishes.
"It could be big." LOGA President Don Briggs says, "it could be very big."
Already, more than 7,000 acres are being leased to drilling companies in this play called the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale Area.
Don Briggs of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association says it's not a guaranteed gold mine but it has a lot of potential.
"The economic impact of one of these big plays could be very significant to the state's economy," Briggs said.
If there is oil and gas right underneath our feet, the question now is how do we get to something embedded in shale thousands of feet underground?
Drilling straight down would be too inefficient so experts developed a rather new technique called horizontal hydraulic fracturing.
"The technique of drilling a vertical hole then laterally drilling is a technique that's been developed just in the last ten years," Briggs said.
Recent studies suggest this drilling technique, also known as fracking, could generate 7-billion barrels in this area alone.
However, Briggs says those numbers could even be higher.
"We'll be updating that here in time," Briggs said.
"So could it be more than 7-billion?" Reporter Shawn Kline asked.
It sounds good on the surface but environmental agencies say there are risks involved when going underground.
Some of the chemicals used in fracking are accused of polluting ground water with heavy toxins such as arsenic and methane.
Briggs says these accusations hold no weight because these drills go thousands of feet underground.
However, The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources has a draft in place which would require companies to report the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.
In many cases, these chemicals are held as 'trade secrets' but DNR officials at least want to identify the chemical families being used.
A public hearing on this regulation will be held on Tuesday, August 30 in the LaSalle Building in Baton Rouge.
The Environmental Protection Agency is also studying the effects of fracking and expect to have a report released next year.