Exploratory Oil & Gas Drilling in Apalachicola River Basin

Cholla Petroleum Oil & Gas Drilling Applications APPROVED by FL DEP

December 2019: Apalachicola Riverkeeper was notified by FL FL DEP Oil & Gas Program that “Final Permits” to Cholla Petroleum for six exploratory oil & gas wells to be located between the Apalachicola River, Dead Lakes and Chipola River would be allowed. Calhoun County is also involved in the Land Use permits for oil and gas drilling.

Apalachicola Riverkeeper remains strongly opposed to these exploratory oil & gas wells as they pose significant ecological along with  economic risk to the region. We will continue to monitor the permit activities and address concerns with local and state officials. 

Both Calhoun County’s Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners will decide on the Land Use permits for Cholla Petroleum on February 18, 2020.  Agenda HERE.

An “Intent to Issue” exploratory oil drilling permits to Cholla Petroleum of Dallas, Texas was issued prior to final permits. Apalachicola Riverkeeper submitted comments of opposition to these 6 exploratory oil wells to be located on private property in the Apalachicola River basin between the Dead Lakes, Chipola River and Apalachicola River. This is in the Apalachicola River floodplain in Calhoun County.

Individuals and groups opposed to the drilling are urged to email DEP Oil & Gas Program.

  • DEP Oil & Gas Program Administrator Cindy Mulkey [email protected]   850-717-9110
  • On email, copy the DEP Office of Ombudsman-Public Services  [email protected]  850-245-2118
  • On email, copy your state representative  For many it is Mr. Jason Shoaf  jason.shoaf@myfloridahouse.gov Mr. Shoaf represents Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf, Jefferson, Lafayette, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Wakulla and part of Leon.
  • On email, copy state Senator Bill Montford [email protected]  Sen. Montford represents Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor and Wakulla counties. Senator Montford is Chair of the Senate Environmental and Natural Resources Committee.
  • Jackson County residents, copy Senator Gainer gainer.george.web@flsenate.gov
  • Please also consider cc’ing your county commission member if residing in the Apalachicola River watershed.

Guest Column by Riverkeeper Georgia Ackerman     News story here         Op-Ed here

Apalachicola Riverkeeper and others have worked steadfastly to help restore a healthy flow of water to the Apalachicola River and Bay. Water supply and water quality must be protected. The threats by oil and gas exploration to the region’s ecology and economy are substantial.  Join Apalachicola Riverkeeper in opposing these exploratory oil wells.

The risk of damage to water quality, biologic and geologic integrity of the ecosystem from oil drilling far exceeds any benefits that a small number of property owners and an oil company will gain. These are not in the public interest for those of us that use and care for the Apalachicola River and Bay.

Click HERE for an easy-to-share summary.  

Click HERE to read Apalachicola Riverkeeper’s comments of opposition, submitted to FL DEP, on Cholla Petroleum’s 6 exploratory oil wells.

Click HERE to read Apalachicola Riverkeeper comments at recent legislative delegation meetings.

To support our continued work to monitor and address oil & gas drilling threats, please donate today.


CALHOUN COUNTY: There are SIX exploratory oil wells proposed by Cholla Petroleum to be located between the Chipola River, Dead Lakes and the Apalachicola River. These applications were first submitted in August 2018, prior to Hurricane Michael. 

Public records related to the permit are available by contacting DEP’s Oil & Gas Program Current oil permit applications can be found HERE.  Questions and comments can also be addressed to FL DEP HERE , Tallahassee office.

Cholla’s drilling pads, located between the Dead Lakes, Apalachicola River and the Chipola River would be located within the Apalachicola River basin and close to flowing river waters during normal high flows. At those times, ninety-five percent of the Apalachicola River floodplain is connected aquatic habitat. Moreover, during major flood events, the drilling pads would be surrounded by flowing water. Of additional concerns are PSJ’s drinking water supply (that comes off intake canal from Chipola River) and the potential construction of a hydrogen sulfide processing plant if a commercial oil field is then pursued. Downstream communities could be affected.

Cholla Petroleum previously conducted seismic testing in Calhoun County in 2016.

Related in Spring 2018, Spooner Petroleum drilled an exploratory well in Calhoun County. It came up dry.

To keep informed on this issue, please join our mailing list.

Cholla Petroleum proposes to drill 12,900 feet down, punching through the Floridan aquifer, the source of drinking water for much of Florida. Both surface and groundwater serve as primary sources of water to Apalachicola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico in our region. Protection of these water sources is of tremendous importance to the human health, wellbeing, culture and economy of the Apalachicola River region. The development of oil and gas in this area threatens the basic quality of life due to the high risk of pollution of the surface and groundwater, subsidence of coastal plain, air quality, and community character.

More than 40 species of amphibians and 80 species of reptiles live within the Apalachicola River basin, the highest diversity of amphibians and reptiles in the United States and Canada. More than 1,300 species of plants, including 103 that are threatened or endangered, are also found in the Apalachicola basin.

Exploratory wells bring the risk of releasing harmful chemicals into the wetlands and rivers. A period of heavy rain could be disastrous if it carries toxins into the river system. Oil wells also require thousands of gallons of water per day, water that would otherwise support flows to the already thirsty and depleted river, floodplain and bay.

GULF COUNTY: One exploratory oil well, called Bear Creek well, application was submitted to FL DEP by Spooner Petroleum in July 2019. The proposed well would be drilled in the Wetappo Creek watershed basin in Gulf County. Apalachicola Riverkeeper submitted comments of opposition to FL DEP to this permit application.

DEP issued an “intent to issue” notice on October 9, 2019 for the Bear Creek well. On December 2, 2019, DEP Issued a Final Permit to Spooner for the Bear Creek well.

Portions of the St. Andrew Bay watershed and the Apalachicola watersheds are in Gulf County, connected by the intracoastal waterway. The Bear Creek exploratory well is located in Wetappo Creek watershed, draining to St. Andrews Bay.


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