Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Driller Uses 548,000 Gallons of Water for Norman Well

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Driller Uses 548,000 Gallons of Water for Norman Well

Article excerpt

After one month of operations, Finley Resources Inc. has used 548,000 gallons of drinking water to drill an oil well on the edge of Norman. However, the Fort Worth, Texas-based driller is a paying customer like any other, and there are no ordinances that prevent the city from selling potable water for industrial purposes.

After a March 31 Journal Record article showed the driller was buying drinking water from a fire hydrant, the city's utility division received a number of calls from residents, Director Ken Komiske said.

"People are asking, 'Why are you doing this?'" he said. "I can't discriminate. A customer is a customer."

Mayor Cindy Rosenthal asked the City Council's finance and oversight committees to hold a special joint meeting to discuss how and when Norman sells a large volume of water to industrial customers such as a driller.

Brian Woodard, vice president of governmental affairs for the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, said he couldn't specifically discuss Finley's operations. In general, however, the oil and gas industry needs water sources for the drilling and hydraulic fracturing process.

"While it may seem odd to tap into a fire hydrant, it is a very efficient use from a logistical standpoint," he said. "That is minimizing truck traffic from hauling water the city wouldn't otherwise want."

As oil and gas companies drilled for natural gas in the densely populated Fort Worth metro area, they had to develop site-safety plans that included minimizing truck traffic, Woodard said. Often, drillers bought water from cities' fire hydrants, which created revenue for the municipalities.

Some large operators have created water reuse and recycling projects in Oklahoma to minimize fresh water used in the drilling process. However, those companies have large-scale development plans that create economies of scale for their reuse projects, Woodard said. Single-well operations don't have the need or scale to reuse water, he said.

State Secretary of Energy and Environment Michael Teague said using 548,000 gallons of drinking water in a month does seem like a large amount. …

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