If and when something is done, Mann isn't overly concerned. "There's already been a lot of activity in Napoleon and Norvell townships, our neighbors over in Jackson County. I've talked to the people there, and they say the companies have been real good to work with and that they've followed all the rules really well."
"There was a lot of testing, but that was years ago, and they've been drilling wells since then," says Dan Wymer, Napoleon's clerk. "A dozen or so here, and more than that in Norvell Township. There's a deposit of oil that extends for quite a few miles in a long and narrow band, and lots of people are getting royalties from the mineral rights."
The deposit is called the Trenton-Black River Formation, says Pat Gibson, vice-president of West Bay Exploration out of Traverse City, the company doing the drilling. "It's in the 4,200-5,000-foot depth range, and runs fifteen miles north to south. We've drilled thirty-seven wells up to this point."
And that's drilled, not fracked, Gibson emphasizes. "No, no, no. No fracking. There's no point in fracking. The formation's already naturally fractured, and you'd damage it if you tried to frack it."