By the late 1980s, that oil legacy seemed like ancient history to me because the Middle East had become the kings of oil production, particularly Saudi Arabia.
Now, my home state is roaring back thanks to hydraulic fracturing in the Mississippian Lime, a liquid rich play in north central Oklahoma and south central Kansas.
Today, I sat down with Chris Faulkner, CEO of Breitling Oil & Gas, about the benefits of this unconventional play versus other better known ones around the country.
Dallas-based Breitling started operating there in 2009 and has multiple wells in the ground with plans for 20 more in the near future.
Cost is the biggest advantage over other plays, Faulkner explained, because the target area is shallower so drills don’t have to go down as far, Faulkner explained. They drill about 5,000 feet down at a cost of about $3 million per well. The infamous Bakken play in North Dakota requires 10,000-foot wells at a cost of about $8 million to $10 million per well.
“It’s a huge amount of oil potential there at a fraction of the cost of the Bakken,” he said.
Breitling also has a strong presence in North Dakota’s oil-rich Bakken Shale but Faulkner said oil companies are paying up to $13 per barrel on transportation costs—mostly by rail—to move the oil to refineries.
That’s not the case in Oklahoma.
“All the infrastructure is already there and you’re very close to Cushing (an oil industry hub) so you don’t get a transportation deduction on your oil,” he said. “Oklahoma has a heritage of oil and gas so you have good, good infrastructure already in place. We really think it is becoming and will stay one of the premier places to drill in the United States.”
The state’s long history of drilling also means there’s decades of geological data on where the oil is located. Thousands of traditional vertical wells were drilled in the area in the 1950s but drillers have now turned to the modern horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technique.
If there’s a downside, it’s the amount of naturally occurring saltwater that comes with each well. All of it gets injected into on-site disposal wells, Faulkner said.