Oil Drilling in Grand Marais?

    When I first heard something about oil drilling in Grand Marais, MN I thought it was a sick April Fool’s Joke.  Then someone revealed the source as the North Shore Highway 61 Real Estate Guide so I decided to Google.  I couldn’t believe what I found and what I read.  Is this for real? Be sure to go to the actual site as it shows how big the boats that will be used are and has a link with community members who are in support of the drilling.

In North Shore cafes and coffee shops, folks have been talking about it for weeks–something big is coming to Grand Marais. North Shore Highway 61 has an exclusive interview with a representative of Norway Energy Resource Operations (NERO) about the company’s ambitious plans for
oil development.

"NERO chose to announce its plans in Highway 61, because it is mailed to every household in Cook County," says company representative Erik Rashim.

For nearly two years, Rashim has quietly visited the North Shore and St. Paul to meet with elected officials, corporate leaders and prominent environmentalists. Dressed in flannel shirts and jeans, Rashim says he’s spent weeks in Grand Marais without disclosing his identity beyond a "need-to-know" basis.

"I just love having breakfast at South of the Border Cafe," he says. "That’s what small town living is all about."

"He leaves better tips than our regulars do," says waitress Peggy Staples.

In an interview at South of the Border, Rashim said NERO will officially announce its discovery of oil-bearing basalt near Devil Track Lake very soon. The company discovered the formation using new satellite imaging technology. North Shore basalts are identical to the rock found in the company’s Siberian oil fields. The advanced technology allows NERO to determine the extent of the oil deposits before drilling.

"The Devil Track field has the greatest abundance of oil and this is where we will start, but there is more throughout the North Shore," says Rashim. "We anticipate that we will be operating here for a very long time."

Crude oil is extracted from the basalt using a crushing process that returns the waste material to the excavation, which will be largely underground, leaving a relatively small footprint—the initial operating site is only 250 acres. However, the crude will be piped from the site to Grand Marais, where it will be loaded onto 800-foot mini-tankers commonly used by NERO on the North Sea. From Grand Marais it will be shipped to refineries on Lake Erie. Rashim says the process for acquiring land for the pipeline route as well as deepwater docking and storage facilities on the harbor has begun.

"That is what I have worked on for the last two years," says Rashim. "Everyone in Minnesota has been so cooperative."

NERO is known for its innovative approach to resolving development and environmental issues. Rather than spending money defending itself from litigation, the corporation instead spends money on potential opponents and possible affected parties. The "money first" strategy allows it to rapidly develop projects worldwide.

"When you mention NERO, everyone smiles," says Rashim.

Harbor dredging and landside development will begin this summer, with crude oil production scheduled to begin in 2012. Rashim says more details, including a map of the pipeline route and harbor development will be available when NERO holds a public meeting in Grand Marais in the near future.

Say Hello To NERO

With corporate offices in Oslo, Tehran and Dallas, NERO is involved in energy and resource extraction projects worldwide. In addition to oil fields in Russia, Uzbekistan, and Iran, the company has coal mines in Uruguay, palm oil plantations in the South Pacific, and even a whaling enterprise in Antarctica.

"We believe in making the most of the Earth’s bounty," says company representative Erik Rashim, a Norwegian-born Iranian national.

On the North Shore, NERO will first develop oil fields and then likely expand into nonferrous mining operations. The company is also considering producing fish oil and pet food from Lake Superior fish. Even during the present recession, the North Shore may experience explosive economic growth.

"Our operations will very likely triple the population of Cook County within 10 years," predicts Rashim.

Local Officials Elated

Local leaders are excited about the Devil Track Project.

"NERO couldn’t come at a better time. We’ve been trying to move the economy beyond tourism and this will do it," says
county commissioner (This story is continued online at http://www.northshorerealestateweekly.com/aprilfool.html)