Oklahoma frac case actually involves above-ground handling

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, July 26 -- A crew supervisor for a Houston well service company pleaded guilty on July 20 to violating federal water quality regulations during a hydraulic fracturing operation in Atoka County, Okla., in 2007. Gabriel Henson faces a possible prison term of up to a year and a $100,000 criminal fine if the court accepts his plea, the US Department of Justice said.

It said Henson was working at the time as a crew chief for Integrated Production Services Inc. at the Pettigrew 18-13H well site on May 14, 2007. A tank had leaked 400-700 gal of hydrochloric acid onto an earthen pad which also was flooded with water from recent heavy rainfall, DOJ said.

It said Henson drove a pickup truck owned by IPS through an earthen berm, causing the rainwater and hydrochloric acid mixture to flow off the well pad and down into Dry Creek, a tributary of Boggy Creek. Spill response crews minimized environmental damage to the creek, it added.

OGJ contacted IPS by phone and e-mail in unsuccessful attempts to learn if Henson subsequently left IPS, and the number of frac jobs the company does each year. A DOJ spokesman said the department does not discuss ongoing investigations that may or may not lead to litigation related to fracing. EPA’s District 6 office in Dallas did not respond to a request for more information.

Not typical
But there were clear signs elsewhere that the 2007 incident was an aberration involving a completion technology developed in the late 1940s which is safely, and increasingly, used to drill thousands of US oil and gas wells each year.

Nearly 95% of all wells completed in Oklahoma each year are fraced, said Matt Skinner, a spokesman for the state’s corporation commission. It’s been used in the state for more than 60 years, and OCC has no documented cases of water pollution from the process, he told OGJ on July 25.

“It’s very important to differentiate the management of fluids used versus the process itself,” Skinner emphasized. “We have berms breached, and the operators are fined. The issue here was the on-sight management related to the operation. Many times, every time hydraulic fracturing is blamed, it’s actually the result of on-site management of the fluids and not the process.”

‘We live here’
Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association Pres. Mike Terry confirmed that fracing plays a part in completing hundreds of wells there each year, and that producers and state regulators work hard to keep water supplies safe. “We live here. We drink the water. We like to go to the lakes and streams. We like to hunt. We want to protect our water supplies too,” he told OGJ on July 26.

He said the state is different from others where concerns have been expressed about fracing and above-ground production practices because of its long oil and gas history. “We’re accustomed to wells being drilled and rigs being moved,” Terry said. “People appreciate the industry’s contribution to the economy. It’s part of our culture.”

“Fracing is a process that’s been going on safely and is regulated by the OCC. Everyone I know is trying to do the right thing,” he continued. “Most of our active drillers are also voluntarily disclosing the chemicals they use. They’re trying to show they’re responsible. Many are using the Groundwater Protection Council and Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission’s Frac Focus web site.”

Terry said that bad behavior is sometimes possible, but added that it’s not the norm. “There are regulations in our state to deal with that, and other states are catching up,” he said. “I’m proud of the record we have in Oklahoma.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

Related Articles

API to issue recommended practice to address pipeline safety

07/01/2015 The American Petroleum Institute expects to issue a new recommended practice in another few weeks that addresses pipeline safety issues, but the tr...

Shell Midstream Partners takes interest in Poseidon oil pipeline

07/01/2015 Shell Midstream Partners LP has completed its acquisition of 36% equity interest in Poseidon Oil Pipeline Co. LLC from Equilon Enterprises LLC, a s...

SIBUR plans MTBE expansion at Togliattikauchuk

07/01/2015 Russian conglomerate OAO SIBUR Holding, Moscow, has started preparatory work for a project designed to expand production capacity for methyl tertia...

Shell makes FID on Appomattox deepwater development in Gulf of Mexico

07/01/2015 Royal Dutch Shell PLC has taken a final investment decision (FID) on the Appomattox deepwater development, authorizing construction and installatio...

MARKET WATCH: Oil prices decline as US crude inventories post first gain in 9 weeks

07/01/2015 Oil prices on July 1 surrendered much of their gains from the day before after the release of a government report showing the first rise in US crud...

BHP, Woodside move to decommission Stybarrow field

07/01/2015 BHP Billiton Ltd. and Woodside Petroleum Ltd. have started preparations for decommissioning of the Stybarrow group of oil fields in production lice...

Woodside-led Browse FLNG venture enters FEED phase

07/01/2015 The Woodside Petroleum Ltd.-led Browse LNG joint venture has entered the front-end engineering and design phase for a floating LNG (FLNG) developme...

Tullow Oil provides production update on Jubilee, other fields

07/01/2015 Tullow Oil PLC reported that gross production for the Jubilee field offshore Ghana averaged 105,000 b/d in this year’s first half, up from 102,000 ...

Statoil to suspend Scarabeo 5 drilling rig

07/01/2015 Due to overcapacity in its rig portfolio, Statoil ASA said it has decided to suspend Saipem’s Scarabeo 5 dynamically position drilling rig after it...
White Papers

Definitive Guide to Cybersecurity for the Oil & Gas Industry

In the Oil and Gas industry, there is no single adversary and no single threat to the information tech...

UAS Integration for Infrastructure: More than Just Flying

Oil and gas companies recognize the benefits that the use of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) c...

Solutions to Financial Distress Resulting from a Weak Oil and Gas Price Environment

The oil and gas industry is in the midst of a prolonged worldwide downturn in commodity prices. While ...
Sponsored by

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts

Better Data, Better Analytics, Better Decisions

When Tue, Oct 27, 2015

The Oil & Gas industry has large amounts of data stored in multiple systems which are purpose built for certain tasks. However, good decisions require insights based upon the data in all of these systems. These systems in turn do not talk to each other. So the process of analyzing data, gaining insights, and making decisions is a slow one and often a flawed one. Good decisions require accurate analytics and accurate analytics require superior/sustainable data quality and governance. This webinar focuses on:

  • The importance of data quality and governance
  • How technological advances are making data quality and governance sustainable in order to get the accurate analytics to make solid decisions.

Please join us for this webcast sponsored by Seven Lakes Technologies and Noah Consulting.


Operating a Sustainable Oil & Gas Supply Chain in North America

When Tue, Oct 20, 2015

Short lead times and unpredictable conditions in the Oil & Gas industry can create costly challenges in supply chains. By implementing a LEAN culture of continuous improvement you can eliminate waste, increase productivity and gain end-to-end visibility leading to a sustainable and well-oiled supply chain.

Please join us for this webcast sponsored by Ryder System, Inc.


On Demand

Leveraging technology to improve safety & reliability

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

Attend this informative webinar to learn more about how to leverage technology to meet the new OSHA standards and protect your employees from the hazards of arc flash explosions.


The Resilient Oilfield in the Internet of Things World

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

As we hear about the hype surrounding the Internet of Things, the oil and gas industry is questioning what is different than what is already being done. What is new?  Using sensors and connecting devices is nothing new to our mode of business and in many ways the industry exemplifies many principles of an industrial internet of things. How does the Internet of Things impact the oil and gas industry?

Prolific instrumentation and automation digitized the industry and has changed the approach to business models calling for a systems led approach.  Resilient Systems have the ability to adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining their central purpose.  A resilient system, such as Maximo, allows an asset intensive organization to leverage connected devices by merging real-time asset information with other critical asset information and using that information to create a more agile organization.  

Join this webcast, sponsored by IBM, to learn how about Internet of Things capabilities and resilient systems are impacting the landscape of the oil and gas industry.


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!


Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected