By CHRIS EVERSOLE
Canadian County is a hotbed for new oil and gas wells, but with the surge of drilling and fracking has come challenges.
Oil and gas companies were abandoning some of their pipes, cutting ditches along county roads.
Sometime, oil companies would leave behind old tires that that they use to cushion roads from heavy equipment.
“It was out of control,” Commissioner Jack Stewart said.
“We didn’t know who was doing what, and we realized we had to get a handle on it.”
The problems peaked two years ago.
That’s when the county commissioners responded and decided to hire employees to police the rigs.
The commissioners initially hired two people to get things under control.
Their job was to create a permitting process for using county right of way for water pipes used in drilling and fracking.
The employees started in February 2018.
One of the new employees was a computer whiz, and he created a database that tracked the rigs.
After getting the database up and running, that employee resigned and took another job.
The second new employee was Dean Walker.
“He is just a positive force,” Stewart said.
“The companies respect him.”
Walker, an amiable, tall guy with a cowboy appearance, is firm but diplomatic.
“If I see something wrong, I get on the phone and tell the company, ‘your site is looking kind of trashy,’” said Walker, whose job title is the county’s right-of-way coordinator.
“For the most part, we have a good working relationship.”
Now, the drilling and fracking sites are neat and orderly.
Walker goes so far as to require the companies to place their portable toilets behind a fence, not it right of way.
He’s not heavy-handed, preferring to give companies a reasonable time to correct problems instead of immediately fining them.
“I figure if you give a little, you get a little,” he said.
His good relationship with the companies pays off.
J.B. Shaw with Select Energy Services helped out the county after flooding caused by heavy rains in the springs.
The company used it heavy pumps to drain standing water from NW 220th Street and North Chisholm Road, which is northwest of El Reno.
Although some residents complain about oil and gas drilling, Walker sees the benefits of the activity.
“The wells kind of help us all,” he said.
“We’re not dependent on a foreign country for our oil and natural gas.”
Dean Walker is shown at the site on 89th Street and east of U.S. 81 where Roan Resources is drilling for oil and gas. He patrols drilling sites to make sure they are neat. Today’s wells involve drilling to a certain depth vertically, then angling the drill horizontally for as far as two miles in preparation for fracking. Photo/Chris Eversole
Fracking is occurring at a Chaparral Energy site on 29th Street east of U.S. 81. The process injects fine sand and water under high pressure to dislodge oil and gas. Photo/Chris Eversole