Oklahoma oilmen debate possible groundwater damage from fracking

As reported in the E&E News, a debate has broken out among Oklahoma oilmen as to whether fracking might actually be affecting groundwater after all.

The new twist, apparently, is that "unconventional" wells in Oklahoma have been found to break through to nearby vertical wells, when fractures propagate under the high pressure of new completions. Fracking fluid has made its way to the surface, disturbing the production of the legacy wells, and raising fears that the same sort of contamination is just as likely to reach water wells, too.

The legacy operators, in addition to protecting their own assets, are fearful that large horizontal drillers are putting the industry's reputation at risk. The E&E News story quotes one small producer (and former mayor of Tulsa) as saying, "If [this] happens where farmers depend on groundwater, the entire industry will get blamed. That's scary."

Some of the so-called "frack hits" may have come about because of conditions that are unique to Oklahoma. But it does seem that cracks are appearing in the industry's wall of denial that fracking, even "done right," can coexist with supplies of drinking water.