The ground was shaking in Terre Haute Friday and tremors will continue throughout the weekend. Crews are using large vibrating trucks and sensors to determine the composition of the ground beneath downtown and whether Indiana State University may be able to drill for oil.
A Michigan-based firm called Bay Geophysical was contracted by ISU to find out if there’s oil beneath their campus.
“Here’s our energy source, that’s a vibrator truck, and what it does is it puts that pad down and sends a high frequency signal in to the ground and it reflects all the subsurface features,” Vice President John Reynolds says as he watches the truck drive by.
Basically, the company collects data which is then turned into maps that show what lies underground.
The testing is a first step in what ISU hopes will be the realization of a new revenue source. ISU spokesman Dave Taylor says it has long been known that there are oil reserves beneath much of ISU’s property, but nothing has been done to tap into the natural resource.
“There is some university owned property in a former industrial area just east of campus and that’s where the drilling will be based,” he says. “There will be horizontal drilling, if indeed it goes forth so as to be least disruptive to the campus as possible.”
As state funding declines, Taylor says universities need money and have had to get creative with their attempts to generate enough revenue to operate.
Drilling operations would be carried out by Pioneer Oil Company, which has agreed to share a percentage of the profits generated from the site. ISU would then put the money into a special fund to be used to pay for repairs and maintenance of campus infrastructure.
Taylor says there are currently no environmental concerns, but the ISU Board of Trustees will oversee the operations to make sure both safety and Terre Haute’s aesthetics are maintained.
ISU struck a deal with Pioneer Oil Company in August to lease out its property for oil drilling. The university says how much it will make off the deal depends on the amount of oil that can be extracted.