The TMS lies in the middle of the Tuscaloosa formation, long known for producing oil, and now that horizontal drilling techniques such as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" have evolved, companies are looking to unlock the oil and gas estimated there, said Commissioner of Conservation Jim Welsh.
Fracking refers to the procedure of creating fractures in rocks and rock formations by injecting fluid into cracks to force them to further open. The larger fissures allow more oil and gas to flow out of the formation and into the wellbore, from where it can be extracted.
Companies are purchasing acreage in areas such as East and West Feliciana by fracking the shale in hopes of extracting the estimated 7 billion barrels of oil and 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The technology has been used since the 1940s in more than 1 million wells in the United States.
In 2004, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded, “the injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids into coal-bed methane wells pose little or no threat to (underground drinking water).”
Welsh's job is to regulate the companies. "We try to ensure these companies do not contaminate our drinking water or acquifers," said Welsh.
Welsh explained that the drill itself is protected by four layers of thick steel so that the oil doesn't escape and contaminate the water.
Welsh said the areas of East and West Feliciana, St. Helena and parts of Zachary have large amounts of gas and TMS activity
Welsh said any time a company drills they have to get permits from his office.
Also, Welsh said that just because a well is not on a person's property, they can still share in the oil production of it.
To watch a video on fracking, visit http://api.org/policy/exploration/hydraulicfracturing/index.cfm.
Also visit dnr.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=pagebuilder&tmp=home&pid=46&ngid=4 fr more info.