In Oklahoma, horizontal drilling proposal causes schism

May 17, 2017

Pete Brown of Kingfisher oil company Brown & Borelli and former Tulsa mayor Dewey Bartlett of Keener Oil and Gas speak out against legislation to expand horizontal drilling at a Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance media event.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

For years Oklahoma’s oil companies have insisted they’re missing out on huge profits due to a law that prevents horizontal drilling more than a mile long. Producers have tantalized state lawmakers with indications that altering the law would fill the state’s coffers—an attractive proposition giving the state’s budget gap of almost $900 million.

As a result, reports StateImpact Oklahoma, industry groups and surface and mineral owners reached a compromise this month, revising the law to allow producers to drill and frack longer horizontal wells.

However, the plan has caused a rift within the oil community. Some groups, including the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association, support the measure. But a powerful group called the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance opposes it, saying horizontal fracking reduces flow to surface wells, and can even damage them.