A South Florida family that made its fortune in real estate asked the state this week to drill an exploratory oil well in marshes just west of Broward County suburbs, marking the first time the search for Everglades crude has extended so far east.
“As second generation Floridians and owners of this property for over 50 years, we are excited about the opportunities this land and these resources will provide for Florida,” John Kanter of the Kanter Family Foundation said in a statement. He declined a request for an interview.
The request for a drilling permit, the first step in what would likely be a lengthy review process, came as a surprise to environmentalists. While there has been a renewed surge of interest in exploring and drilling in existing oil fields in Southwest Florida, that had cooled with falling oil prices. And no company has previously targeted anything near the proposed location, along a major drainage canal about a half-dozen miles west of U.S. 27 and Miramar.
“I’m just kind of shaking my head,” said Matthew Schwartz, executive director of the South Florida Wildlands Association, which opposes expanded drilling. “I guess it was just a matter of time, but it’s interesting with oil prices plummeting that they decided to start drilling .... I would imagine the reaction from the community to drilling that close to the urban area would be intense.”
The well would be a traditional vertical well that could go nearly 12,000 feet deep, a Kanter spokeswoman said, and is intended to tap into the vast Sunniland trend, an oil formation that the U.S. Geological Survey said extends across all of South Florida and west into the Gulf of Mexico. The application from the Kanter Corp. of Florida, based in Miami, is the first step in a “long-term plan” that the company says also would include rock mining, another major concern for environmentalists.
If approved, the well would be the first so far east of the small drilling operations in the Big Cypress Preserve, which have hummed along for decades. Only one well has ever been dug in Broward County, said Florida Department of Environmental Protection communications director Lauren Engel. In 1985, a Texas company drilled just inside western Broward County line near Collier County. The well was plugged and abandoned the same year.