Hydraulic Fracturing in Florida – An Update

Senate Bill 318: Regulation of Oil and Gas Resources received 9 YEAS and 10 NAYS and died in the Florida Senate Appropriations committee on March 11, 2016. This bill was referred in October 2015 to the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Subcommittee and was approved in January 2016. The bill then moved to Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and was approved in late January 2016. Following the Subcommittee on General Government, Senate Bill 318 reached the Senate Appropriations committee.

What does this mean? Currently, thirty-two counties and forty-eight Florida cities have passed either a resolution opposing hydraulic fracking for oil and gas exploration and/or an ordinance banning it. Conventional methods of oil drilling include the drilling of a vertical well; and withdrawing oil from the reservoir. Conventional oil drilling is significantly cheaper and from geologic a drilling perspective, relatively easier than unconventional oil drilling. Unconventional drilling is a longer and more expensive process. Typically, the well is seated in a tight (i.e., less transmissive) unit, where the well transitions from a vertical to a horizontal well (i.e. “L” shaped well when completed). As the targeted geologic unit is typically less transmissive, the exploration firms commonly hydraulically fracture the unit to increase its potential for oil and/or gas to freely flow and, potentially, oil production.

With Senate Bill 318 ending in committee, unconventional methods for recovering oil and gas reserves are essentially on hold in Florida; however, this does not impede conventional methods. As a water resource based firm with the belief in being a good steward of the resource, WRA is keeping a keen eye on the process in Tallahassee.

Written by M.C. Alfieri, P.G., P.Hg., CGWP