State Representative Wants to Re-Open Old Oil Wells in South Florida

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that there are about 370 million barrels of undiscovered oil under South Florida -- and State Representative Mark Hudson (R-Naples) wants to go looking for it.

Specifically, he wants to go back to old plugged or dry wells and give 'em another shake using advanced drilling techniques. 

"What we do is create a new category of oil called 'mature oil,'" Hudson, who has taken campaign donations from Marathon, ExxonMobil, Chevron, and TECO Peoples Gas, told the Naples News-Press.

State records show dozens of capped, dry, or otherwise inactive wells scattered across the Everglades, including some in Broward county. Many are in the Big Cypress National Preserve, which has been the subject of recent debates about hunting and motor vehicle use.

More are in the Seminole Indian reservation, where regulations on drilling could differ from U.S. law. Collier Resources -- owned by the Collier family, which handed over the land in a swap deal to create the Big Cypress preserve -- holds the mineral rights to many of the well sites.

Collier Resources says it has "not been following" Hudson's bill, but would support additional drilling.

Its well fields include Raccoon Point, which the News-Press reports has seen five new wells drilled this year. Another company, BreitBurn Energy Partners of California, reportedly drilled five new wells in 2010 and 2011 in areas around Big Cypress.

None are currently active producers -- but if Hudson's bill gets anywhere, that could change.

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