Natural Gas 'Vibroseising' Shakes Up Oregon's Malheur County


Malheur County is the latest spot for natural gas speculators hoping to shake things up.

In August 2012, Boise Weekly first told you about seismic operations in Payette County, using so-called "geophones."

The geophones are long, black cables attached to 12 metal stakes driven into the ground. When bunched together, the cables resemble a tangle of Christmas tree lights. A separate set of seismic cables, crisscrossing the geophone cables, send the sound waves into the Earth's crust. The cables are fed the seismic waves from a "vibe truck," about the size of a fire engine, which drops 3- by 6-foot metal pads to the ground that shake, or vibroseis, the Earth.

The sequential sound waves shake the ground and dart through the Earth's crust, each wave bouncing back when it hits a formation. The images are then transmitted to a separate receiver truck, parked on an elevated parcel of land and connected to an antenna similar to a radio tower. The receiver truck collects the signals, creating the sonogram-like images.

But now, seismic operations have begun right across the state border from Payette County, in Oregon's Malheur County.

The Argus Observer reports that Western Land Services started seismic testing last week and will continue for another month. The Observer reports that crews have been obtaining signed releases from property owners to conduct the testing on private land.

To date, three companies have filed for Oregon land leases in hopes of exploring for natural gas: Jetez Petroleum, Energy West Corporation and Snake River Oil and Gas. Snake River has been quite active in its purchase of land leases in Idaho, in hopes of drilling for gas.