Wyo. explores oil-gas regs for groundwater testing

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 4, 2013 at 5:58 pm •  Published: February 4, 2013

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves pumping pressurized water mixed with sand and chemicals underground to crack open fissures and improve the flow of oil and gas.

The Pavillion gas field is one of Encana's few Wyoming properties with domestic water wells nearby. Most of the company's Wyoming projects are on public land with few people living nearby, Encana spokesman Doug Hock pointed out.

"In Colorado, a lot of the issue obviously revolves around drilling near people who have water wells and domestic water use," Hock said.

Even so, Encana is looking at baseline groundwater monitoring ahead of plans to drill hundreds of new gas wells in Sublette and Fremont counties, he said.

"Bottom line is, it's something we support. We think it's a best practice and I think it's in the best interest of both operators and the public," Hock said.

The key is making sure that the public can look at the results of groundwater tests and that companies don't just keep it to themselves, said Richard Garrett, a lobbyist for the Wyoming Outdoor Council.

"Just because they've tested, themselves, does not necessarily give us a great deal of confidence. We like the fact that they're doing it but we think that better transparency helps everybody," Garrett said.

The Petroleum Association of Wyoming has been asking its members what they think about the possible requirement, said association vice president John Robitaille.

"We have heard back from several that they do this voluntarily already, several that do it at a request, and others that pretty much are a case-by-case basis," said association vice president John Robitaille.

Comments on the proposal are still coming in from some oil and gas companies, he said, and the association will share their thoughts about the rules as they're being developed.