Is there Natural Gas Beneath Dallas County?

Drillers—and cities—are betting Barnett Shale riches are headed Dallas' way.

"We understand the seismic has confirmed there is Barnett Shale in this section of Dallas County," he says. "We're a small, private institution. This is a welcome source of revenue for the campus, and it will let us do things. We're hopeful and prayerful that we'll be blessed by a bountiful well."

Neighbors near Dallas Baptist University include T.D. Jakes' Potter House and the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, where an employee told the Observer that, being part of the Department of Veteran Affairs and federal land, it would never allow gas drilling.

In the Mountain Lake Estates neighborhood, next to Mountain Valley Park and Florina nature preserve, residents claim not to know of any deals being cut in their neighborhood. "All I know is I heard somebody talking on the radio about the Barnett Shale," says homeowner Lee Thacker.

Rigs like this one could soon pop up in West Dallas.
Rigs like this one could soon pop up in West Dallas.

County records show that six homeowners in the neighborhood have signed leases for their mineral rights with XTO Energy. Recently, a contractor was surveying Mountain Valley Park for the energy company. His map showed homes in the neighborhood within a 600-foot radius of a proposed drill site to the land leased by the city.

"The gas companies are pretty aggressive," says Duebner, the city's point man on gas leasing. "They basically send out a letter with an offer of a bonus. We don't give legal advice, but we can educate residents on how leasing takes place and how neighborhood associations can work together to get a good deal."

Kim Ker, a Mountain Lake Estates resident, laughs when asked if there is a homeowners association in the neighborhood. "They've tried to start one three times and no one shows up," he says.

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Wow. What once seemed so exciting and intriguing is now known to be dangerous and ill advised. If only we knew then what we know now.