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Oklahoma rancher says seismic surveying is to blame for damaged water well

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MUTUAL, Okla. - A rancher in Woodward County is speaking out, says seismic surveying damaged a water well and cost him thousands of dollars.

Gleed Fenton, 71, retired about eight months ago to manage his small cow-calf operation full-time. His retirement came around the same time he was approached by Gold Star Land Services, LLC to do 3D surveying of his land for Devon Energy.

Fenton signed a survey permit back in February with Gold Star in which Fenton would be paid $10 per acre, totalling $9,600. In exchange, the permit says "The amount paid to the Grantor as provided above shall constitute settlement in full for all damages, if any, that may result to Grantor's property as a result of Operator's normal operations."

But Fenton realized something was wrong with his water well about a month ago after having trouble replacing the pump inside. Fenton said the well has produced water for years and then suddenly stopped working and he believes the seismic activity is to blame.

"This seismic exploration that Devon's doing out here is costing us more than we're getting out of it. I'm going to end up spending $9,800 just to replace the well and move the windmill tower and put it over the new well being put in," Fenton said. "I went along with the crowd and I shouldn't have done it."

Fenton claims the vibrations from the large survey trucks pinched a pipe in the well that provides water for cattle on one of his pastures, rendering the well useless.

"It was pinched down so tight I could hardly get it out," he said.

Fenton filed a complaint with Devon.

The company responded on Friday saying it "...has no reason to believe the vibroseis survey would have caused this claim." The letter also said the contractor was outside of established safe distances from his well to avoid damage.

"If I had to do it over, I probably wouldn't do this lease. I was really reluctant to even to sign it to start with," he said.

Fenton said he's not looking for compensation, and is only wanting things to be put back the way they were found.

News 4 reached out for further comment Tuesday, but have yet to hear back.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission says it does not have any authority or responsibility when it comes to alleged damage caused by seismic surveying.

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