Prospectors Drilling for Gas in Arkansas

JANUARY 9, 2006 - Posted at 8:10 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Fron north-central Arkansas to the Mississippi River, companies are investing hundreds of millions of dollars to drill wells in the Natural State.

They are looking for natural gas, and dozens of new wells already are producing it.  The target of all the drilling is a geologic formation called Fayetteville Shale.  Southwestern Energy Company started the rush in 2001 when it realized it could use unconventional drilling methods to tap gas trapped in the shale.  Companies are buying up mineral rights from Arkansas property owners.  And 20,000 wells may eventually be drilled in the Fayetteville Shale.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)