Tennessee gas output hike urged to fuel plant

Tennessee needs to sharply increase its natural gas production in support of a planned gas-fired electric generating plant to be built at Rogersville in Hancock County northeast of Knoxville, said the Tennessee Oil & Gas Association.

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Aug. 5 – Tennessee needs to sharply increase its natural gas production in support of a planned gas-fired electric generating plant to be built at Rogersville in Hancock County northeast of Knoxville, said the Tennessee Oil & Gas Association.

The Tennessee Valley Authority will need up to 160 MMcfd of gas for the plant, scheduled to begin producing power in late 2011. The state produces only 16 MMcfd of gas even though it has enormous potential, said Scott Gilbert, TOGA president.

Gilbert, lead geologist for Vinland Energy, Oak Ridge, said at least half of Tennessee’s 95 counties have oil and gas potential even though only 11 eastern and middle Tennessee counties are producing oil and gas.

Several shallow and deep horizons are prospective in Tennessee, and the most potential lies in the Chattanooga shale, said Gilbert.

He noted that the Chattanooga underlies the entire Cumberland Plateau and Highland Rim of eastern and middle Tennessee and occurs in scattered locations in the rest of East Tennessee. The Chattanooga is 1,000 to more than 4,000 ft deep.

Several Tennessee companies already have commercial Chattanooga shale wells, both vertical and horizontal, Gilbert said.

“Now with a very large potential market for our gas to TVA, we lack only the infrastructure, which will come with the additional leasing and drilling we anticipate,” Gilbert predicted.

The proposed $820 million, 880-Mw generating station is to be located beside the John Sevier coal-fired power plant that supplies electricity to upper east Tennessee. The purpose is to reduce emissions from the existing plant, which brings in most of its coal from neighboring states, TOGA noted.

TVA said it would need to shut down units for 20 months at John Sevier to meet a court-ordered, accelerated schedule to install emission control equipment, increasing the risk of electric supply disruptions because John Sevier is TVA’s easternmost power plant and anchors the eastern end of its transmission system.

Development of gas to fuel the new plant will create jobs and boost state severance tax revenue in Tennessee, Gilbert said.

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