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Embattled Oil Company Drops Exploration Plans In Southwest Florida

Ashley Lopez

An embattled Texas-based oil company announced Friday it’s relinquishing most of its oil drilling permits in Southwest Florida. The announcement is a victory for activists in Collier County, who have been fighting the permits for about a year.

After state-levied penalties, legal challenges from Collier County Commissioners and protests from residents, the Dan A. Hughes Company has announced it won’t further explore for oil in Southwest Florida.

The company announced in a statement that it is surrendering its mineral lease in Southwest Florida and will “cease oil and natural gas exploration in that area.”

Karen Dwyer, with the Stone Crab Alliance, has been protesting the company’s oil exploration efforts for about a year now. She said all the pressure from the community sent a strong message to the oil company.

“As far as I know, oil and gas has not been challenged has not been challenged ever in Southwest Florida,” she said. “That’s what the commissioners told us when they filed their petition. This is a big victory.”

However, Dan A. Hughes is not shutting down its operation at the Collier-Hogan well near Lake Trafford. The company was fined for using an unauthorized fracking-like drilling procedure there. Dwyer said she hopes state officials will eventually revoke that permit, too.

State officials have been calling on the company to be more transparent. Florida Department of Environmental Protection Chief Herschel Vinyard has made several trips to Southwest Florida recently. He is asking Dan A. Hughes to meet a list of demands before July 15. Among them is a series of public meetings, which have yet to be scheduled.