Houston’s Natural Gas Parks

HOUSTON’S NATURAL GAS PARKS Isn’t it about time this city got back to basics? A company called Southern Star Exploration will soon be setting up drilling rigs outside 3 city parks and a city service center in northeast Houston. Yesterday city council approved a 3-year oil and gas lease to let the company explore possible reserves under Herman Brown Park, Maxey Park, Brock Park, and a public works facility on McCarty Rd. What’s in it for the city? $200,000 for the lease, plus a promised 25 percent of any royalties. Mayor Parker says she doesn’t want drilling rigs set up on city property, but she’ll “look for more opportunities” for horizontal or slant drilling to get at what lies beneath. [abc13] Photo of Herman Brown Park: Gulf Coast Bird Observatory

25 Comment

  • I just keep thinking of that big old sinkhole in Daisetta.

  • Oops, hit the post comment button too soon. Is there not any danger involved in this? If not, I’m all for it. If so, what’s the risk ratio?

  • Probably the biggest risk is a blowout that got ignited, but that would impact the drill site, not the park. Natural gas production is usually pretty innocuous, otherwise.

    The City just needs to be sure that they are properly indemnified from potential risks or liabilities that may arise from the venture.

  • I think Daisetta is more due to salt dome collapse very oil extraction.

    I think you see more subsidence sea floor scenarios with oil extraction, but usually when you extract you pump in replacement fluids. Oil experts care to weigh in?

    As for doing it by the park, it’s no big deal. Depending on what side of the park, much of it is in a natural state. The west end has ball fields and a freeway going through it.

  • That is a “versus” instead of “very” at the beginning.

  • I give credit to the mayor for exploring every avenue to close the city’s budget gap. This gas exploration play goes along with the recent announcement about selling city property along Allen Parkway.

  • Some are questioning the “deal” involved since there was no public notice, no public hearingts, and apparently was just put on the agenda and voted on.

    Some are questioning whether bids were taken for the leases. Or if the mayor just decided this company’s bid was probably the best. So just who are these people behind Southern Star Exploration. Enquiring minds want to know.

    No doubt next she will sell a lease for Memorial Park. Good luck with that one. George R Brown tried and ran head-on into the Hogg Trust which in essence said to “forget it.”

    Transparency is not something this mayor will ever be accused of.

  • Looks like the company is owned by small time oil guys, who asked the City for a lease. It would be nice to know what sort of seismic data they had.

  • We’ve got a lease on my family’s homestead in East Texas. My family moved there in the late 1800s. It’s a beautiful place with a lake at the bottom of a hill and and the log cabin my great grandfather built at the top. The drilling hasn’t spoiled the place at all. They haven’t found oil yet but if they do I’l l be glad for them to bulldoze the entire place. I can buy a nicer cabin, maybe one in River Oaks or Piney Point.

  • Ft Worth has made a FORTUNE drilling under public lands. There are also gas wells under DFW. It’s about time Houston did the same. Sadly, natural gas is pretty cheap right now…

  • Under that whole Dallas Ft. Worth area is the Barnett Shale formation which is huge.

    To my knowledge, there is not a shale play anywhere near Houston which leads me to think that this company is speculating. They may or may not have already performed seismic tests. Sometimes that is written into the lease and sometimes it’s a separate contract.

    It would be interesting to know exactly why this company wants those particular parcels of land.

    For the large shale plays, generally a section is required. Less land is needed for vertical drilling.

    I am not an O&G professional, I’m merely speaking from personal experience. /disclaimer/

  • This is a shame. Does anyone ever wounder why they don’t Frack within the watershed that provides water to New York? Seven million people could become horrendously ill or even die from contaminants. You know I can live without gas, I can’t live without water….Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here…we need this water especially when other parts of our country hardly have any.

  • I’d be a whole lot more concerned about well water contamination if we got our water from wells.

    There doesn’t have to be a shale gas or tight gas formation here. They could just be going after conventional gas reserves.

  • Unless the COH sets its own rules about bidding for oil and gas leases (anyone know and care to weigh in???), this isn’t like an offshore lease sale where the lowest bid wins.
    A private landowner can invite any company they want to to develop the reserves. If I’m not mistaken, the State of Texas and the UT system have in the past allowed one company to just company to come in and produce the oil.

    I think you’d be surprised at how much Upstream (production and exploration) O&G activity has occurred in the Houston area and further upstream (rivers) of us. And yet, we’re all still alive and overall pretty healthy.


    The entire DFW metroplex discharges their wastewater into the Trinity River which eventually ends up in Galveston Bay and is also one of the primary sources for water for the City of Houston. The entire Houston region is on a plan to convert whatever ground water is being utilized for potable water use to surface water (Lake Houston/Trinity River). The Houston region is not a major recharge zone for aquifers and little if any potential seapage will never reach a ground water source in the region because of our soils. North and northwest of Harris County you start to get some soils which allow for recharging. Central and North Texas are the major recharge areas and are strictly regulated. Just try to a get a wastewater discharge permit in central Texas. It’s not easy.

  • @kjb34,
    You can get a disposal permit for sure, but you have to prove that whatever you’re pumping in won’t contaminate a drinking water aquifer. Salt water from oil production is disposed of in this way.
    If you’re talking about sewage, it’s probably a lot more cost-effective to build a treatment plant or send it to a WWTP instead of pumping downhole. I wouldn’t know about that though. I’ve never tried.

  • eiioi,

    I’ve completed many discharge permits in various areas of Texas. Disharge permits work for any effluent whether sewage or oil production. Oil production falls into industrial waste discharges which are more involved and costly with stricter test requirements.

    Any which way, the proper permits will need to be pulled and public notification is required for any type of discharge permit.

    What should be known is that this is a just test drill sites. If they strike anything promising, then it morphs into a production well. Hopefully they strike for city to find a windfall source of revenue not coming from the citizens’ pockets.

  • “public notification is required for any type of discharge permit”
    For surface discharge and also for underground injection?
    “Hopefully they strike for city to find a windfall source of revenue not coming from the citizens’ pockets.”
    Hope so too. Some though, would rather bite the hand that feeds them.

  • http://www.vanityfair.com/business/features/2010/06/fracking-in-pennsylvania-201006

    read this article about the effects of fracking, such as people being able to turn on their kitchen sink faucet and light their water on fire due to methane contamination from fracking. their animals hair is falling out from drinking the water. their families are sick… miles and miles of groundwater has been irreversibly contaminated with deadly chemicals. yeah, this sounds like just what houston needs. and in our public parks no less. typical texas. now instead of drill baby drill, frack baby frack.

  • Concerned Citizen, before believing in hit pieces in Vanity Fair, do a little more real research.

    The contents of the fracking solution is hardly something humans don’t expose themselves to on a daily basis.


    Methane in drinking water can occur naturally also. You can also go out to a swamp and light fires on it’s surface if you happen to be near a natural methane release point (i.e. swamp gas).

    The biggest danger from fracking is if ground becomes unstable after the procedure. This danger is from any natural resource extraction whether it’s a solid, liquid, or gas.

  • kjb434: I work for a natural gas E&P and I can assure you that the chemicals used in frac fluids are not all things that people expose themselves to on a daily basis. (Except for the main chemical, H2O.) This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are harmful, but what does harmful mean? Something may not be harmful to touch, but would be harmful to ingest or inhale, for example. (That said, Glutaraldehyde is definitely not something that you want to have on your skin, in your lungs, or in your drinking water.) The question is whether any of these chemicals are actually getting into folks’ drinking water. That has never happened with my company.

    In any case, I can assure you that the natural gas industry is working really hard to find ways to not have to use many of these chemicals because they are 1) toxic, and 2) expensive.

  • HOUSTON CITIZENS. Stop listening to the industry hype about how safe this process of natural gas extraction is and read the fact from people who have become sick and having their properties rendered worthless by hydraulic fracturing. Not to mention that water wells in north Texas are being ruined, and our air is now poison. Yes, Fort Worth politicians and special interests have made a fortune on natural gas drilling in the Barnett Shale. However, “we the people” are now spending that money to test our air quality which is horrible, and to make sure our aquifer is not also contaminated!


    Drilling can be done responsibly, but never should be produced anywhere near people OR public parks.

  • I lived in the Houston/Clear Lake area for 10 years back in the ’70s and ’80s before environmental issues became known.
    Now, you people should really know better, since the results of fracking are in, and they are conclusive.
    The contamination from chemicals and toxins used in fracking fluids cause nosebleeds, headaches and other ailments, AND CANCER.

    While it is agreed that there are great profits to be made from fracking, YOUNG CHILDREN are getting sick, AND DYING from exposure to the harmful by-products from fracking.
    How do you people sleep at night, knowing that YOUR demand for cheap gas to produce cheap energy used to run your AIR CONDITIONERS is behind the dangerous pracitce of fracking ? ?
    Do you sleep well in the cool night air of your air-conditioned homes, while children are confined to hospital rooms ?

    After waking from a restful night’s sleep, do you feel good looking in the mirror, knowing that YOUR GREED and demand for cheap energy is causing the deaths of children, you own neighbors ?

    Think about that next time you cast a vote for an anti-regulation, pro mega-oil corporation candidate.

    When you elect people like Gov Rick Perry, you are voting for the death of young children, in favor of profits for mega-rich people that don’t care about you, or your children.