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.

Addendum: In a victory for opponents of the drilling near the Panther refuge, Sierra Club reported that in mid July, 2014, the Dan Hughes Oil Company announced that it would be terminating its lease holdings on 115,000 acres in the area. Only a few weeks earlier, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection announced that the driller had been using illegal extraction techniques similar to fracking.

Data sources

7 replies
  1. Barbara Brown
    Barbara Brown says:

    Living in “gaspatch” Texas and have made it thru 32 of the 35 earthquakes in less than 3 months due to injection wells…take it from me when I say DO and SAY ABSOLUTELY WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO KEEP DRILLING OUT O YOUR STATE. You can not allow this to start, then it will be to late!

  2. Athena Marler Creamer
    Athena Marler Creamer says:

    Every citizen of Florida should be anti oil and gas drilling, fracturing, and especially dumping! Our slogan used to be Florida Forever. LET’S KEEP FLORIDA FRACKING FREE FOREVER. What other place deserves it more! Gov. Rick Perry and 8 other (some non coastal) governors wanted to form a company BHP to secretly explore offshore on the Forgotten Coast. (Appalachicola-Tallahassee) How dare they? I’m sick of other states coveting ours. Florida is a national treasure. Preserve it! Don’t elect ANYONE who won’t.

  3. Robyn
    Robyn says:

    What about the lost of thousands of animals that are expected to parish because of this? Because it’s under a certain number its okay? This is why whales are beaching themselves. …

  4. Karen Edelstein
    Karen Edelstein says:

    Mike, thank you SO much for your correction. I’ve corrected the blog entry to reflect your insightful and accurate comment. Much appreciated!

  5. Mike Hill
    Mike Hill says:

    Hydrogen sulphide is not used in acidizing or fracturing. It is a gas component, when present, that makes crude oil and natural gas sour. It has the characteristic “rotten egg” smell of sulfur compounds, can lead to headache and nausea at low concentration (10-20ppm, leave the area standard), more severe responses at higher concentrations, including death. The danger is particularly high because high concentrations (hundreds ppm) deadens sense of smell immediately. Hence, the safety plan based on monitoring in the event of a release. In the industry, hydrogen sulphide is treated as an acid gas due to corrosive nature on steel.

    Acidizing utilizes hydrochloric acid (HCl) to remove formation damages caused by perforating the casing. It is particularly useful in limestone formations (Sunniland) by dissolving the rock to create pathways for flow. The reaction results in carbon dioxide, calcium chloride, and water.

    Hydrofluoric acid (HF) is used to effectively remove silica clays from the formation that hydrochloric acid doesn’t affect. Many water-based muds have clay additives and formations, including shales, often contain clay. The reaction products from clay are more complex and incomplete dissolution leaves fine particulates to recover from the formation after treatment.

  6. Gary Hogan
    Gary Hogan says:

    ‘Where ever this Gas and Oil Industry has gone with this Fracking has had negative effects to the environment from air quality, water quality , EARTHQUAKES in Texas and Oklahoma were they have had more than in a century in the last few years, QUALITY OF LIFE for nearby residential, property value decline ( who wants to buy a home near gas drilling activities ?

    • Ivonne
      Ivonne says:

      The land they are talking about not only is a part of the panther territory but it connects part of the Fakahatchee slough preserve and the Picayune Forest that flushes out to the 10000 islands estuary. This is one of the few areas that many of our Everglades species thrive. the water quality will suffer not only for the animals but also for us humans. It is truly sad that we as a nation have not turned to other energy sources to remedy this.

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