From: Anna M. Tinsley, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Ts
Published January 5, 2005 12:00 AM

Fort Worth, Texas, Approves Natural-Gas Drilling Under Parks

Jan. 5--FORT WORTH, Texas -- Drilling for natural gas could begin this summer under three city-owned parks under an agreement between the city and a Dallas-based oil and gas company.

City Council members voted 8-0 Tuesday to contract with Dale Resources to drill under about 700 acres in Gateway, Quanah Parker and Tandy Hills parks in east Fort Worth.

The company will pay the city a one-time lease bonus of $1.4 million and 25 percent in royalties.

"It's clearly the best deal for the city," said Councilwoman Becky Haskin, who represents the city's east side. "And it's a golden opportunity for our parks to generate money to help improve and maintain them."

The council -- without Councilman Chuck Silcox, who was absent -- selected Dale Resources over two other bidders. Four Sevens Oil Co. had proposed paying the city about $800,000 plus 25 percent in royalties, and Frost Brothers Resources would have paid the city about $700,000 and 25 percent, city records show.

Analysts have said that drilling for natural gas could pump millions of dollars into city coffers.

Environmentalists have questioned the need to drill under publicly owned land, however, saying that the work will bring noise, odor, lights, traffic and other environmental concerns. Additional concerns have been raised about how gas would be transported out of the area.

City officials say they will avoid direct drilling on the parkland by allowing horizontal drilling, where companies explore for oil or gas from adjacent sites.

The drilling sites are relatively remote, and any noise generated would be temporary, officials said. The sites are close to active gas pipelines that can transport the gas out of the area, they said.

The city-owned property is in demand because of the Barnett Shale, a vast underground natural gas reserve that runs from the Oklahoma state line through the Metroplex, including Tarrant County.

Officials have yet to approve a plan on how to use proceeds from the wells, but many say at least a portion is expected to go back to the parks.

"The parks in east Fort Worth have been neglected for so many years," Haskin said. "It's an awesome opportunity."

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© 2005, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

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