McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

June 6, 2014

Water worries bring local oil and gas operation under scrutiny



Once a new stage is perforated, hydrochloric acid (HCL) is pumped to clean the perforations. HCL is the same acid that is found naturally in the stomach, Gosling said.

Finley used a 15 percent solution Thursday. Tanker trucks with the chemicals used in fracking are run by a computer and monitored by technicians to carefully control each process.

The acid is inserted slowly at 10 barrels a minute with low pressure. It hits the perforations and cleans up any particles that might disrupt the fracking process.

Next, a sand and gelled water mixture is pumped down the well bore. The gelling agent (Guar) is the same used in the gelatin people eat. The sand and gel mixture is pumped at a high rate and usually at a high pressure.

While pressure is necessary to the fracking process — the sand mixture hits the perforations and bursts into the tight rock, widening the tiny cracks that exist naturally — too much pressure is not good, so everything is closely monitored.

While the technicians watch the numbers and graphs closely on a variety of compute screens, O’Neil oversees the process. He’s on the scene for the entire fracking portion and likely won’t leave until it’s complete.

During a break, he fields a phone call from his 13-year-old daughter in Texas. She wants him to come home so she can go to the local water park. He explains that he’s in the middle of a job in Oklahoma and won’t be home any time soon.

It’s tough, the guys said, being away from their families, but it’s also a rewarding job.

“It’s a fun business, but you work,” O’Neil said. “We earn our money out here.”

Gosling said he once missed nine Christmases in a row before making it home the next year. When he arrived, everyone was in bed. They hadn’t expected to open their presents on time, he said.

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