By Lura Roti
for Land & Livestock
As the oil and gas industry booms in neighboring North Dakota, questions began to arise over whether the industry will move south and what this would mean to South Dakota landowners if it does. To answer these questions, Gov. Dennis Daugaard established two oil and gas work groups in May 2012.
The Oil and Gas Development Work Group was tasked with researching the potential scope of oil and gas industry development in the state and what this would mean to the environment and surface landowners. The second work group – Oil and Gas Preparedness – was tasked with determining what actions should be taken to prepare for development if it were to occur. These groups were given four months to find answers and reported its findings to the South Dakota State Legislature this last September. Their research and recommendations are available in the South Dakota Oil & Gas Development/ Preparedness Executive Branch Work Groups “Summary of Findings.”
Based on the findings in this executive summary as they relate to fracing and additional discussions with experts in the environment and natural resource law, Land & Livestock put together a Fracking 101 Q&A for its readers.
Q: What is fracking?
Nathan Sanderson, Policy Advisor, Office of the Governor and Leader of the Oil & Gas Development Work Group answers:
Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a mechanical technique used to increase the permeability of rock to increase oil and gas production. The process involves injecting water, a propping agent such as sand and a small percentage of chemicals into an oil or gas reservoir under high pressure. This creates small fractures in the rock which are held open by the propping agent, allowing oil and gas to flow to the well.
Fracking is not a new technique. It’s been around since the 1940s and has been used in South Dakota for many years on both oil and gas and water wells. However, advancements in drilling technology, which allow for horizontal drilling, have made fracking a common technique – especially in areas of the country such as North Dakota with large, tight oil and gas reserves that could not be produced economically without the use of these techniques.
Q: What is the growth potential of fracking in South Dakota?
Nathan Sanderson Answers: The oil and gas found in South Dakota is primarily in Harding County in the Red River “B” Formation. This formation is more permeable than the Bakken Formation, so hydraulic fracturing is not necessary.
The oil and gas reserves available in the Red River “B” Formation are relatively small in comparison to