The combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing is credited with increased dry (versus offshore) production in the United States. The upside of the horizontal drilling and fracturing process is less dependence on foreign energy sources.
Net petroleum imports have fallen by about 50 percent in nine years because of the growth of dry production from unconventional reserves using hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, according to the Energy Information Administration.
The downside includes concerns that an increased number of earthquakes are associated with increased fracking operations. Other concerns involve the potential contamination of water supplies.
Norman residents have voiced concerns about negative affects on the environment and possible contamination of the Lake Thunderbird watershed or the Garber-Wellington aquifer. Whether the city council will address those concerns is unclear.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission regulates oil and gas drilling, including fracking operations and waste disposal. The commission requires wells to be made of steel pipe sealed with cement.
The Corporation Commission reports that no drinking water pollution from hydraulic fracturing has been documented in Oklahoma, despite that approximately 100,000 wells have undergone hydraulic fracturing.
Norman sells natural gas as green alternative: CNG produces significantly less pollution than gasoline and fewer emissions to contribute to global warming. Using CNG also is said to extend the life of vehicle engines, industry sources said.
The city’s CNG fueling station was hailed as a green initiative for Norman. Additionally, the city owns and operates 60 CNG vehicles, which is about 15 percent of the city’s “rolling fleet,” Public Works Director Shawn O’Leary said.
The city buys natural gas for the fueling station from Oklahoma Natural Gas and compresses it for use in vehicles.
“It’s the same gas that we buy to heat our buildings,” O’Leary said.
Oklahoma is fourth in the nation in natural gas production and fifth in oil, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.