Home-grown Oil Production is on the Rise

Mar 13 2014

Story written by Nick Werner of Outdoor Indiana - Photography by Frank Oliver of Outdoor Indiana



The tower of pipes, pulleys and hydraulic hoses rose 40 feet into a clear summer sky.


At the base of the drilling rig, a driller and two rig hands operated the contraption, each dressed in white hard hats and fire-resistant work shirts. The rig’s owner, Danny Veeck of Magnum Drilling Services, monitored progress as he stood by his heavy-duty pickup.


"We are about 82 feet deep,” he told three onlookers, including a representative from CountryMark, the oil company financing the effort.


As the hole grew deeper, the rig hands swung additional 30-foot sections of drill pipe into place.


The plan was to drill a well 1,400 feet deep in this soybean field east of Terre Haute. Since 2011, a neighboring parcel with about a dozen wells had produced 800 barrels a day for CountryMark, or about $30 million worth of oil annually, constituting the largest oil find in Indiana in 25 years.


How would Magnum know if it struck black gold?


Not by seeing it gush out of the top of the rig and rain oil, if that’s what you’re thinking. At least that’s not what’s supposed to happen. Modern technology prevents the blowouts that characterized the brash drilling of the early 20th century. Today’s process is much less dramatic.


Veeck periodically dipped a ladle-shaped strainer into a holding tank where a muddy soup of water, limestone and shale was being pumped from the well.


“You’ll see an oily film and you’ll be able to smell it,” he said.


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