WE'LL never miss the fracking until the wastewater well runs dry.
Amid the swirl of sentiment opposed to hydraulic fracturing, amid speculation that injection wells cause earthquakes, and amid the skepticism that the national shale boom is ephemeral, Oklahoma is emerging as a major oil producer because of shale formations.
Isn't Oklahoma already a major oil producer? Historically, yes. Recently, not so much. Conventional crude oil output in this state has been in a steep decline, dropping from its peak in 1927 at 762,000 barrels a day. More than 15 billion barrels of oil have come from beneath Oklahoma since 1900.
In recent years, natural gas began dominating the hydrocarbon industry, but low prices lowered the flame on that trend. State-based energy producers began switching back to oil, often in fields far from Oklahoma. Continental Resources' success in North Dakota and Montana is legendary. But because of Oklahoma's early experience with massive oil exploration and production, the state has a pipeline infrastructure that many hot producing areas can't match.
All it needed was more Oklahoma oil to flow through those pipelines. It's happening.
Headlines began appearing with news of the state's emergence as the “next big shale oil play” (Reuters, Oct. 18) and an oil production growth rate greater than any state other than Texas and North Dakota.
Other headlines have appeared as well:
“Could the fracking boom run dry?” (USA Today, Nov. 4), reporting that “new research suggests that the boom could peter out” long before the nation reaches energy independence.
“CO2 injections likely culprit in Texas earthquakes” (Reuters, Nov. 4), which includes a roundup on the suspected link of seismic activity to wastewater wells, fracking and enhanced recovery techniques.
“Texas company announces rich oil play found in state” (The Oklahoman, Nov. 5), announcing a promising new shale formation discovery west and northwest of Oklahoma City.
Whether based in Oklahoma or elsewhere, energy firms are investing in Oklahoma oil fields. Oklahoma was an early adapter of fracking, which was never a dirty word until recently. Continental Resources, a pioneer in advanced drilling techniques and fracturing up north, may achieve the same results closer to its Oklahoma City headquarters.