Although drilling in Mitchell County hasn't really even started, the small, quiet town of Colorado City is getting ready for big growth. "We've had landmen wall to wall for a year...maybe two years. We've spend lots and lots of money on copy paper. They've gone through all of our supplies," said Mitchell County Judge Ray Mayo.
Ray Mayo grew up in Colorado City and has been the Mitchell County judge for 22 years. He says he's never seen anything like it. "Back in the early 50's we had a little oil boom, but from what I understand it's nothing compared to what's fixing to happen now," he said.
It's all part of growing interest in the Cline shale, located in several counties throughout West Texas. Mitchell County sits right in the center of it.
"It covers the eastern part of the Midland Basin. It probably goes farther west than we know yet and some of the wells that are just west of town here have actually tested the Cline zone successfully," said independent oil producer Ted Collins.
Hype over the shale play has hit the internet hard. One article we found online had a headline reading, "Investors Anticipate What Could be the Largest Shale Play in American History."
Although producers expect big things from the Cline, Collins says the jury is still out on exactly how big that's going to be. "I think it's definitely commercial, and I think it's going to have a lot of activity. It's already put a lot of money in people's pockets on lease bonuses. A lot of companies are gearing up and planning on it. But real hard core results and long-term production histories on it aren't available yet," Collins said.
Even though those results are yet to be determined, Luke Musselman, a landman working in Mitchell County, says his company is trying to get ahead of the game. "It's still in the early stages. I feel like, at this point, it's still speculation. I think some people are still holding back waiting to see what happens. We're trying to get in front while there's still plenty of opportunity available," said Musselman.
In the meantime, Judge Mayo said they're working around the clock preparing for anticipated growth that could change their small town for years to come. "What we're told is this is going to be the new norm," he said. "There may be some ups and downs through the years, but this is actually going to be the norm for Michell County, and we better be prepared for it. So, that what we're hoping to do."
Judge Mayo also tells me their real estate market is at an all time high. They have people calling interested in building hotels and new companies wanting to locate there. In the meantime, they're looking into getting new water and sewer lines and a new water tower to meet the anticipated growth.
For more information on the Cline Shale, visit the following sites.
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