Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Hydrant Hookup: Drilling Company Buys Drinking Water from Norman

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Hydrant Hookup: Drilling Company Buys Drinking Water from Norman

Article excerpt

On the east side of Norman, along Franklin Road, a black plastic pipe stretches from a fire hydrant to a new construction project. Though selling water for industrial operations isn't unusual, the customer is.

Finley Resources Inc., a Fort Worth, Texas-based oil and gas company, is drilling a horizontal oil well.

Norman Utilities Director Ken Komiske said it's not uncommon to sell water directly from a fire hydrant for commercial construction projects. The rate is about 20 percent higher - $2.50 per 1,000 gallons - than the standard commercial water rate of $2.10 per 1,000 gallons.

Businesses rent meters from the city that directly connect to fire hydrants and provide an exact reading of how much water is used. Each month, businesses bring in the hydrant meters, and Norman bills them.

At the height of the construction season, the city often rents out all 50 of its hydrant meters, Komiske said. Contractors building Ronald Reagan Elementary School used a hydrant meter for about six months for water to keep down dust and for landscaping, he said.

The drilling process typically uses hundreds of thousands to several million gallons of water for each well. Employees who work on-site need potable water. Water, mixed with mud and chemicals, is used to lubricate and cool drill bits as they create well bores tens of thousands of feet below the earth's surface.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, also uses millions of gallons of water. Operators inject millions of gallons of water mixed with thousands of gallons of chemicals and thousands of pounds of sand to fracture the rock formation below, to extract more oil and gas.

Several large operators in Oklahoma use non-potable water for drilling. Recognizing the resource's importance in a drought, many large operators use non-potable water in the hydraulic fracturing process. The hydraulic fracturing process can use between 4 million gallons and 10 million gallons of water, depending on the location and geology of the well.

Finley rented the hydrant meter on March 12, so Komiske said he did not yet have the amount of water the company or its contractors have used so far. …

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