Florida Hydraulic Fracturing, Proposed Drilling, and Seismic Tests

Over the last few months, we have received several requests to map drilling data in Florida. Below is the information we have been able to procure to-date.

One of the newest controversies in the field of oil and gas extraction is playing out in South Florida, just outside of the City of Naples. While there has been history of oil and gas development, both on- and off-shore in Florida since the 1940s, the risks of fracturing rock to extract hydrocarbons more than 10,000 feet below the surface, has been gaining much attention recently.

The map below shows the locations of planned seismic testing for deep strata oil extraction in Collier and Hendry Counties, Florida, and also the location of a newly permitted exploratory oil well and an adjacent salt water injection well close to the center of the city of Naples, Florida, in the suburb of Golden Gate Estates. According to the final permit, filed 9/20/2013, the horizontally-drilled exploratory well, if it reaches “an economically viable layer and the applicant chooses to continue drilling operations…will proceed to a final depth of 16,600 feet measured depth/12,064 feet total vertical depth”. The nearby salt water injection well would be 2800 feet deep. This extraction targets a fossil fuel-bearing geological layer called the South Florida Basin Sunniland/Dollar Bay Basin. The method of extraction will be via “acid fracking” – the type of unconventional process proposed for the Monterey Shale in California – not hydraulic fracturing using water. Florida is underlain by limestone bedrock. Acid-fracking in this sort of geology creates cracks in the rock by dissolving the calcium carbonate, allowing trapped gas to escape.

In April 2013, in conjunction with the well permitting plan,  31 neighbors near the proposed well received notices that they were living in a “hydrogen sulfide evacuation zone.” Hydrogen sulfide is a often released from gas-bearing rock formations during drilling.

(Click here to be redirected to a full-screen version of this map, including a legend and capability to toggle layers on and off)

The drilling activities are being opposed by groups such as Preserve Our Paradise. Preserve Our Paradise was formed when residents learned that the Dan A. Hughes Company of Beeville, Texas had applied to drill a well that the organization feels presents threats to public safety and the natural environment. Members felt particular concern because the proposed well would be less than a mile from the “City of Naples main water wellfield, the future Collier County water wellfield area, the Florida Panther National Wildlife Preserve, and the residential suburb of Golden Gate Estates,” according to Preserve Our Paradise’s website. The Dan A. Hughes Company has already leased 115,000 environmentally sensitive acres of Southwest Florida for exploration. Two other petitions were filed opposing the well: one from the Stone Crab Alliance, a citizens’ group, and other by Matthew Schwartz, a Lake Worth resident. Both petitions cite concerns for panthers and other environmental issues.

Additional testing for oil and gas is may be occurring not far away. Companies, such as Kerogen Florida Operating Comp. LLC, Hendry Energy Services, and Tocala LLC have applied for permits to conduct seismic testing for oil in Hendry and Collier Counties, just north of Big Cypress National Preserve, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Oil and Gas Drilling Applications Database.

EPA Region 4 will be holding a public hearing on the Golden Gate well permit, tentatively scheduled for February 27, 2014 at the Golden Gate Civic Association.

Data sources