Controversial fracking bill passes Senate committee

OKLAHOMA CITY - A measure that would expand horizontal drilling is facing some opposition from an unlikely source.

Senate Bill 867 passed out of the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget by a vote of 32 to 10 late Tuesday afternoon.

The bill would expand horizontal drilling by allowing lateral wells to be drilled in all geologic formations and in larger areas.

Proponents say it would generate more money and jobs for Oklahoma, but some smaller oil and gas companies say what the horizontal drillers are doing now could put them out of business.

“The production they made was our property and our livelihood. And it’s going away. They’re taking that oil and gas and when it’s gone, it’s gone,” said Joe Warren.

Warren is with Brown and Borelli, a company that operates dozens of wells in Kingfisher County.

He says at least 22 of his wells have been adversely affected by horizontal drilling.

One just last week started pulling up water instead of oil.

“The wellbore’s suddenly full of water and as was some of our equipment here got filled up with water, actually shoving water up the wellbore and into the tanks and equipment,” said Warren.

Warren says a horizontal well in the area pushed that water into his production zone.

“It’s happening to wells all around this area and, you know, these are wells that have been producing for decades, just a nice steady production. And now, like this, we’re making a lot of water,” said Warren.

The Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association supports the legislation and has been trying to get it passed for years.

They represent more than 2,500 individuals and companies in the oil and gas industry.

“I’ve always been fascinated why they’re lobbying against this because it’s going to be good for Oklahoma,” said Tim Wigley, with OIPA. “The ability to draw longer, lateral wells is going to be good for the state, good for the industry and good for Oklahoma.”

Warren says the damage from the horizontal drilling could completely shut down some of his wells.

“I think it will put us out of business unless we pick up and go find somewhere else to drill where there’s not horizontal wells,” said Warren.

Senate Bill 867 could be voted on the full Senate floor sometime later this week.