Op-ed by Mike Cantrell, OEPA President
Let’s be clear, horizontal well drilling and fracking have been an economic boon for Oklahoma. It has provided a much-needed lifeline to the oil and gas industry and the Oklahoma economy over the last decade. No reasonable person can be against it as long as it is done responsibly and regulated properly.
Unfortunately, we are attempting to regulate horizontal drilling and fracking with rules and procedures developed for the vertical well universe. This must change. One of the unintended consequences of this activity that has received much attention is earthquakes. Fracking of horizontal wells has been tied to as many as 300 localized earthquakes in the past several years.
However, other unintended consequences haven’t received much-needed attention. The livelihoods of many Oklahoma families are being destroyed almost daily due to fracking of horizontal wells. Most horizontal wells are completed with a high-volume and high-pressure hydraulic fracturing procedure involving the injection of 4 million to 5 million barrels of water and chemicals and 4 million to 5 million pounds of sand injected at over 10,000 psi of pressure. Further, in the past year alone, the fracking of horizontal wells has been linked to 30-plus pollution incidents.
The fracking of horizontal wells has adversely impacted vertical wells as far as 1 1/2 to 2 miles away. This has occurred to hundreds if not thousands of vertical wells. A study commissioned by the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance found that, in Kingfisher County alone, more than 400 vertical wells were adversely impacted by horizontal well fracking over a two-year period. This represents a major loss of income from these vertical wells often owned by Oklahoma families and family owned small producers who have lived in our state for generations, which includes many OEPA members.
The livelihoods of many Oklahoma families are being destroyed daily by horizontal fracking. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission needs to be as vigilant in protecting the rights of vertical well owners and producers who have been here for generations, have found the oil and gas, and are producing it profitably, as they are aggressive in permitting this destruction by protecting horizontal well drillers.
Cantrell is president of the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance, an association composed of companies, operators, leasehold owners and royalty owners concerned with protecting the rights of conventional vertical oil and gas well producers.