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A company will start drilling for oil soon on the Indiana State University campus, and this wouldn‘t be the first time drilling has taken place there.

Pioneer Oil Company is seeking permits to open a capped well on the Terre Haute campus.

It‘s one of several wells in the Terre Haute area according to Robert Guell (GILL), professor of economics at ISU, though oil is not a major industry in the state.

“Of the 43 states in the United States who have ever produced oil, Indiana ranks 35th at about 6,000 barrels a day,” said Guell. Most of that is in western Indiana, in locations close to refineries just across the state line in Illinois. There is some renewed interest in trying to drill for oil thanks to the recent oil boom in places like North Dakota.

“Their production went from just a little over 100,000 barrels a day to more than 600,000 barrels a day,” said Guell. “But that still doesn‘t hold a candle to Alaska at more than a million barrels a day or Texas at two million barrels a day.”

The production boost in North Dakota and other areas is due to the increased use new techniques to find oil, such as hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – and horizontal drilling.

“Oil is found in relatively thin layers, and horizontal drilling can make that worthwhile,” said Guell, adding that companies will try those techniques in Indiana. Still, production in Indiana is less than one-third what it was at it‘s peak in the early 1980‘s, and Guell does not expect oil to boost the state‘s economy.

“Production would have to increase dramatically for there to be a noticeable increase in Indiana employment.” Terre Haute‘s Board of Public Works approved the permit for Pioneer‘s work on the ISU well, but leases must still be obtained from the university and other landowners in the area.