McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

June 6, 2014

Water worries bring local oil and gas operation under scrutiny

(Continued)

NORMAN —

On May 19, the Floodplain Permit Committee approved a permit to temporarily allow equipment in the floodplain for water extraction from the Little River to two holding ponds for Finley’s drilling operations.

While Finley officials said they still will use the metered water from time to time, non-potable water will be used for the fracking process. One Flow, a water transfer service started by a local entrepreneur, worked with Finley to develop the alternative.

Drilling was the first step in the multi-phase process of oil and gas extraction. The dirt and water mixture or cuttings that remain after drilling are mixed into the soil at a permitted site. The disposal process is regulated by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, O’Neil said. This is not a deep well disposal process.

Finley owns the 10-acre site on Franklin and also has purchased some of the surrounding mineral rights. Horizontal drilling combined with hydraulic fracturing allows operators to access oil and gas trapped in tight rock — formations that are common in Oklahoma.

Often, horizontal drilling allows for one well versus multiple wells that were once the method for extracting from tight rock. Drilling these days is computer driven with millions invested in a site before there’s any guarantee of payoff.

While technology has improved the processes, every well is still a gamble.

“It’s millions of dollars at risk every time,” said Fred Gosling, Finley production superintendent.

 

Fracking 101: Prior to fracking, a perforating gun is run down the hole. Small perforations are shot along the well bore to allow the fracking fluids to escape into the rock. In the Franklin Road well — officially named the Little River after the tributary that crosses an edge of the 10-acre property — there will be 19 frack stages. Each stage is perforated and fracked separately.

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