“They Must Be Held Accountable!”

Mark Myles calls for an investigation into failure to regulate test drilling practices and the unabated environmental impact on Oklahomans in Rogers County

Oklahoma City, OK —  Oklahoma City attorney and Democratic Attorney General nominee Mark Myles calls for an investigation into the Oklahoma Corporation Commission for their failure to properly protect Oklahomans from the risks of drilling and conserve our oil and gas reserves.  “We have a serious issue in Rogers County where BP/Amoco and GTI drilled test wells without permits that reached under property they did not have the rights to drill. They have potentially made hundreds of millions of dollars from this area and no taxes have been paid to the state or royalties to landowners that they drilled under their land with horizontal drilling.” Myles states.

BP/Amoco, GTI, GRI Catoosa and other interests drilled somewhere between 150 to 1200 or more horizontal wells extending in every direction for up to approximately 1/2 mile. The wells extend under the surrounding neighborhoods. The testing utilized all manner of drilling muds and chemical concoctions including toxic drilling materials. There was insufficient documentation with regard to drilling fluids, and the disposal and closure of pits where drilling fluids and cuttings were stored.

Soil samples contained heavy metals, diesel type hydrocarbons and other deleterious material and groundwater wells were contaminated. “More than 25 years of waste byproducts were improperly stored on the site by covering with soil or injected into a disposal well, again without permits. The pit storing drilling fluids and tailings was also improperly covered by soil. Most of the residents in the area have no idea of the potential for environmental harm.” Myles said.

Attorneys for the victims have made Attorney General Mike Hunter aware of this situation and no action has taken place from his office. “The important thing here is win or lose in this election, I am committed to getting to the bottom of this problem and helping the people whose lives, property, and livelihoods have been threatened and fighting to protect Oklahoma taxpayers. They must be held accountable!”

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BACKGROUND

WHO: Some years ago corporate interests including but not limited to BP/Amoco and GTI parlayed a surface lease which gave them the right to be on the surface of some property in Rogers County into the right to drill wells for the specific purpose of testing drilling and production technologies. The research process and the problems that arose came to light when Ganer Oil Company, which had 11 producing wells on their own valid lease, started to produce drilling mud instead of oil and gas in 2011. Ganer owned half the mineral rights and the Commissioners of the Land Office owned the other half of the mineral rights. Ganer’s wells were air drilled wells that never utilized drilling mud. Marc Ganer, representing his mother, went to the OCC for relief which resulted in an adverse ruling.

WHAT: Typical drilling operations require companies to get a surface lease to get on the land, a lease to obtain the right to drill for minerals, file intent to drill, get a permit to drill for oil or water, post a pollution abatement bond to pay for pollution, provide notice to all people within 1 mile of a horizontal well, have a hearing before the OCC to determine spacing and direction before a well is drilled, limit wells typically to one per 640 acres, obtain permits to dispose of hazardous waste, have to properly case wells to protect fresh groundwater and the common supply of oil and gas, not trespass on existing leases, not waste oil and gas, get a permit for injection well, properly permit and plug wells, and properly dispose of hazardous waste…where the OCC would ordinarily regulate virtually all such activities by someone without a vested interest or a conflict of interest, NONE OF THESE THINGS HAPPENED except a valid surface lease.  Without OCC supervision, the OCC, surface owners, landowners, royalty owners and working interest owners have no idea what wells have been drilled, where they are, what substances are in them, who is responsible for pollution or problems, including protection of water, the environment, other correlative rights, problems with drilling, problems with plugging, problems with impacting other existing leases including loss of reservoir pressure, communication of various layers of rock and common sources of supply.

BP/Amoco, GTI, GRI Catoosa and other interests drilled somewhere between 150 to 1200 or more horizontal wells in circular formation extending in every direction for up to approximately 1/2 mile. The wells extend under the surrounding neighborhoods. The testing utilized all manner of drilling muds, and chemical concoctions including toxic drilling materials. Prior to the April 12, 2012 decision the wells were drilled with notice of intent, without permits, without pollution abatement bonds, without notice to people within a mile of the horizontal wells, without any hearings before the OCC, without regard to spacing and direction, without properly casing the wells allowing contamination of fresh water and affecting the common supply of oil and gas, without regard to either waste or to criminal trespass, without permits for an injection well, without proper permits for plugging, without properly plugging the wells, without properly disposing of over 25 years of drilling mud, without regard for proper spacing, every

WHEN: Drilling commenced in the area in 1972 and continued for 40 to 41 years until their activities could no longer be hidden. In support of their actions the Oklahoma Corporation Commission issued an Order on April 10, 2012 holding that operations at another site in Pawnee County were not for the exploration or production of oil and gas, injection, disposal or as a service well, and do not fall within the subject matter jurisdiction of the Commission. They further held that a permit to drill pursuant to OCC-OAC 165:10-3-1 is not required for such activities. This was the Flint case in Pawnee County. As such the Commission created a regulatory legal fiction allowing unmitigated abuse of Oklahoma’s resources and applied it to Ganer whose case effectively prompted the ruling. The test facility in Rogers County operated from 1972 to approximately 2012 with no regulation or effective oversight prior to the April 12, 2012 order.

WHERE: The location of the test facility was a 60 acre plot of land (henceforth known as the Williams Lease). The land location is just north of the intersections of 193rd E. Ave. and 76th St. N. on the east side of Owasso, just over the line and into Rogers County. The area is bounded by the neighborhoods of Timbergate, Oak Ridge, Stone Canyon, and the Patriot Golf Club, an area with probably an excess of $1,000,000,000 worth of development.  

DAMAGES:

  1. Test holes penetrated common sources of supply over which Ganer owned the minerals, and produced drilling waste in the form of cuttings, fluids, muds and chemicals that are typically regulated by the Commission. Further, the drilling actions harmed the production of hydrocarbons from his oil and gas wells, thus affecting its correlative rights and producing waste.
  2. There was insufficient documentation about drilling fluids, the disposal and closure of pits where drilling fluids and cuttings were stored.
  3. There was no “blanket permit” prior to April 12, 2012, to allow any activities AND the pits containing drilling mud and cuttings were not permitted, supervised, inspected, followed up by the Commission.
  4. Despite the Commission’s position that reservoir pressures were unaffected, the pressures were severely degraded.
  5. Soil samples contained heavy metals, diesel type hydrocarbons and other deleterious material and groundwater wells were contaminated. More than 25 years of waste byproducts were improperly stored on the site by covering with soil or injected into a disposal well, again without permits. The pit storing drilling fluids and tailings was also improperly covered by soil. Most of the residents in the area have no idea of the potential for environmental harm.
  6. The reservoir was valued by Amoco as between $295 million to $356 million.
  7. The Commissioners of the Land Office has 50% of minerals. Congress, the Oklahoma Legislature and the Oklahoma Supreme Court have made one thing clear over the years: the land, the minerals and the Permanent Trust are to be treated as “a sacred trust fund …. held by the state and shall ever remain inviolate. It may be increased, but shall never be diminished.” The trust has been diminished.

“THE FUNDAMENTAL IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION IN OKLAHOMA IS ENSHRINED IN THE MISSION OF THE LAND OFFICE. TO THAT POINT, ONE OF THE FIRST ACTIONS CONGRESS UNDERTOOK IN THE CREATION OF OUR STATE WAS TO SET ASIDE ASSETS AND LAND, MANAGED BY THIS OFFICE TO PERPETUALLY SUPPORT INSTITUTIONS LIKE SWOSU.”

– RANDY L. BEUTLER PRESIDENT, SOUTHWESTERN OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY

  1. The principal regulator was Deputy GC Sally Shipley who upon information and belief is believed to have been formerly an employee of BP/Amoco for approximately 15 years, possibly put through school and law school by BP/Amoco, and possessed of a conflict to regulate said company.
  2. Diesel fuel oil, benzene>5000 ppm, arsenic, and more in soil. Barium in freshwater. Drilling fluids, mud, buried under top soil. Top soil raised 4-6 feet.

Further Reading: Report of the Administrative Law Judge in Response to Protestants Motion to Dismiss Cause EN 201100105