It took a while for Garvin County residents to learn about a Tulsa company's plan to drill a wastewater disposal well in their area, but they are wasting no time in trying to block the project.
CAVU Energy Services Inc. received a permit for the saltwater disposal well in October 2010, but the company did not complete the project before the permit expired 18 months later.
Wynnewood resident Joe Menefee, whose family has owned land near the proposed disposal well since 1903, said he is worried the well — which would inject as much as 50,000 barrels of wastewater a day into the ground — would contaminate the area's water supply.
Menefee said that part of Garvin County has not recovered from decades of oil and natural gas activity.
“It is not suitable here because of the unplugged, uncharted, unknown locations out there,” Menefee said. “This area has been raped and plundered for many years.”
He said the disposal well is not needed, noting his study of Oklahoma Corporation Commission records shows nine disposal wells in the county were used at only 13 percent of their capacity in 2010, the most recent data available.
Menefee was one of several Garvin County residents who testified before an administrative law judge in a daylong hearing Thursday about their opposition to the CAVU project. More than 1,300 signed a petition against the project earlier this year.
Petroleum engineer Bruce Langhus helped prepare CAVU's application for the disposal well, which would inject wastewater about 4,000 feet underground in the Arbuckle formation.
“It has the ability to take a lot of water over the life of the project,” he said.
Langhus said there is about 3,800 feet between the injection zone and what regulators consider treatable water, which is fit for consumption by livestock.
He said the listed capacity for the disposal well is an arbitrary figure that is common for such projects. It gives companies flexibility to cover contingencies.
Most of the wastewater to be injected into the well will arrive via pipeline, Langhus said, after several landowners had complained of the truck traffic needed to deliver 50,000 barrels of water to the site.
Langhus also said the proposed well's proximity to the Washita River's floodplain should not be an issue since it will be protected by a two-foot berm.
Pauls Valley resident Charles Menefee expressed concern the CAVU well would endanger the area's water supply.
“There's one thing we can't life without. That's water,” he said. “We can't drink saltwater.”
Area landowner Ian Ogilvie questioned the Tulsa-company's viability, claiming CAVU's financial statements show it is in “terrible” shape.
CAVU attorney Cheri Wheeler objected to the “offensive adjectives” the Oklahoma City portfolio manager used in his testimony, but the judge allowed Ogilvie to share his thoughts on the company.
“The company says ... it's making money, that it has income,” Ogilvie said. “That statement is misleading at best.”
The former securities lawyer said CAVU is owned by a succession of general partners meant to shield it from judgments. “People need to know this,” he said. “If you go after these folks there's nothing there.”
After the end of Thursday's testimony, CAVU CEO Bill Robinson defended his company, which operated 67 producing wells and four disposal wells in Oklahoma. He said the company has been around since 2001 and has focused on oil and gas since 2009.
The hearing continues Friday at the Corporation Commission.