Shale Boom's Dark Secret, Ruined Old Oil Wells in Oklahoma



Shale Boom's Dark Secret, Ruined Old Oil Wells in Oklahoma
Not every oilman is gaining from the US shale boom.

The case belies a broader problem, said Matt Skinner, public information officer at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, a regulatory body. The agency tried and failed to require operators to report incidents even if they didn’t cause environmental damage, he said, but couldn’t get support from bigger players in the industry. As a result, companies are not required to report incidents that result only in monetary damage to a well. Those issues must be taken to district court.

The main obstacle has been a lack of data, according to Skinner. So now, the commission is focusing on encouraging vertical well operators to report problems. They’ve confirmed 20 incidents and have at least 55 more pending, Skinner said.

"We know it’s happening, we know it’s an issue," he said. "We have every reason to think there are more incidents out there than we know of."

Cantrell’s organization, meanwhile, is pushing to slow down further development of horizontal drilling until better data is gathered on their effect on existing wells. 

"We need to slow this process down until we can get the regulatory regime to keep up with it," he said. "We’ve applied a vertical regulatory regime to a horizontal world."

To contact the reporter on this story: Meenal Vamburkar in New York at mvamburkar@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net Jim Efstathiou Jr.


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Charlie Polk  |  October 11, 2017
Many of the Stripper wells are on their last leg and will stop profitable production within a year. Those wells are not measurably affected by the horizontal wells removing assets the vertical wells can't touch. The rule is "find oil and pump it out" Remember the assets you don't reach is fair game to those who put forth more effort.