Mar 302012

By Teri Walker —

The quest to strike oil in the Holbrook area is on again as a Utah company prepares to sink an exploration well about 15 miles north of town.

The Arizona Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has granted a permit for Triomphe Energy, LLC of St. George to drill an exploration well on land owned by the Jeffers Partnership.

Triomphe Energy Manager Todd Clement has researched the history of oil and gas exploration in the area and studied the geology, and is optimistic his company will find oil.

“You’ve got faults running through there, helium…all the earmarks that say you might find oil,” said Clement.

Clement’s company is preparing the site for drilling, shoring up a pad that will support the heavy drill rig that will plunge 3,000 feet below the surface looking for oil.

Triomphe’s lease area is 640 acres and is located about four miles from the border of Navajo Nation lands, off Arizona State Route 77.

Arizona Oil and Gas Administrator Steve Rauzi said Triomphe’s well site is just south of two other wells that were drilled in 1961 and 1962 by explorers likely looking for helium or other gases. Both of those wells were abandoned without being developed, although helium and carbon dioxide has been discovered in the greater region.

It’s been a long time since explorers have drilled for oil here. In the early 1900s, oil drilling caused a lot of fervor in the Holbrook area, with the Holbrook Tribune proclaiming bold headlines of “Hopi Well Has Oil,” “Adamana Rich in Oil,” “Dutch Shell Co. Plans Drilling Holdings Here” and “Crude Oil Production Must Be Encouraged.” Periodically since those early explorers, others have sunk wells in the hopes of striking it rich. Ultimately, no oil fields were developed in the region, but those early endeavors aren’t dampening Triomphe’s resolve to take a new look.

Rauzi said given rising oil prices, he isn’t surprised companies might be interested in taking another look at the Holbrook area, especially considering the geologic indicators that have attracted explorers in the past.

But, he said, Arizona is a risky place to invest in the search for oil, compared to nearby states like Texas where the industry has a strong domestic foothold.

Clement maintains, “When you read the history of Holbrook and consider the geology here, there’s reason to believe there’s an opportunity to find oil.”

Area rancher Bill Jeffers, who is part of the Jeffers Partnership, is watching the project with interest.

“I wish them well. I hope they hit a big gusher,” he said.