SHELBY TOWNSHIP (AP) – An energy company said it will indefinitely shut down oil well operations in Shelby Township after residents expressed strong opposition to the drilling.

West Bay Exploration Vice President Patrick Gibson said Monday the Traverse City-based company would halt operations by the end of the week. It had been running a test well in the Macomb County township and was going to decide whether to advance to production operations.

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Shelby Township’s board passed a six-month moratorium last week against drilling in residential areas. Roughly 700 residents attended an emergency town hall to express frustration with the drilling.

The company aims to be a good community partner and will address concerns before moving forward, Gibson said.

Scio Township officials near Ann Arbor passed a similar moratorium last week after the company started drilling there.
Gibson said he had received notice of the moratorium but hadn’t read it closely. The company has no plans to stop drilling in Scio Township, he said, because of the status of activities at the site.

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“We’re into the drilling phase now and there’s a safety factor that becomes involved in the drilling where we need to continue circulating mud in the hole,” Gibson said. “To keep the integrity of the hole, to keep the hole the round shape that the bit created it, to keep the sides from caving in we need to keep pressure on the sides of the hole.”

Scio Township Supervisor Spaulding Clark agreed that safety could be compromised if the company stops drilling halfway through the process. He said the city’s board of trustees has yet to set a timeline for West Bay to stop operations at the site.

“I think part of it is a wait and see attitude about what’s actually going on out there,” Clark said.

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