Energy legend T. Boone Pickens has been hands-on in oil and gas drilling for more than 60 years, and he's seen it all, or very close to it all. In the video below, he talks about why hydraulic fracturing, better known as "fracking," is not really as dangerous for the environment as many claim.
How confident is Pickens in fracking? He has a number of wells on his own property, with horizontal wells actually being drilled directly underneath his own house!
For more about his thoughts on fracking and horizontal drilling, watch the short video below.
Jason Hall: Hey Fools out there, it's Jason Hall here, and the gentleman to my left doesn't need that much introduction. It's T. Boone Pickens. Boone, thank you so much for agreeing to sit down with us today.
T. Boone Pickens: You bet, Jason.
Hall: It's a rare opportunity to tap into your mind, when it comes to somebody that has the legacy and experience, and really the vision that you've had, in terms of energy.
Pickens: I've been there for the whole show.
Hall: Yes, just about.
One of the things that I think is really interesting if you look at your history, you've typically nailed it when it comes to knowing how things are going to play out, with not just oil and gas, but over the past decade with your proponence of alternatives like wind, and that sort of thing.
I'd love to hear your thoughts a little bit on that, going back to when you first got into the oil business, going on through the more recent times.
Pickens: Well, when I first got into the oil business, I was 16 when I roughnecked on Earl Evans' rotary rig in Hughes County, Oklahoma. That was my first introduction. I worked as a swamper the next summer, then went to Oklahoma State, got my geology degree, went forward from there, and I've been in the business ever since.
I got out of school in '51; that's over 60 years. I saw my first frack job, 35 miles west of where we're sitting, in 1952.
Hall: The new technology, hydraulic fracturing.
Pickens: Yes. It's interesting, because the president of the United States, I've heard him say that fracking was developed by the Department of Energy, their research, 30 years ago. Okay, well it was 62 years ago I saw that first frack job. I don't know where in the hell everybody else was, but I know where I was! It's funny.
Hall: I think the biggest thing that's happened in recent times is they've just been able to refine that technology, but it's nothing that's really specifically brand-new.
Pickens: No. You were doing exactly the same thing. You were getting your pump pressure up, and your injection volumes, you were trying to raise those.
I saw where we got 50 barrels a minute into the formation which, that was a huge deal -- lots of power and everything. Well, what are you doing now? You're doing the same thing, only you're getting more fluid in per minute, and more sand.
Hall: A lot of that is just because of the technical capabilities with newer equipment, newer capabilities, right?
Pickens: It is, and I'm amused that somebody says this could cause earthquakes. Get out of here!
Now, there are also concerns that people have with groundwater and that sort of thing. From my understanding, typically when you're talking about these well depths, versus the water table ... do you want to talk a little bit about that?
Pickens: Sure. Right here where we're sitting, the water table is about 15 feet down. Then you have about 300-400 feet of saturated water sand. That's the aquifer, which is a part of the biggest aquifer in North America.
Hall: The Ogallala?
Pickens: Ogallala. It extends from Midland, Texas, to the South Dakota border, across eight states. There have been a million wells fractured in -- well, below -- the Ogallala, but over that area of the eight states, where you have the aquifer, and I don't know of any damage to the aquifer.
You're fracking from one and a half to two miles below the aquifer. How in the hell you're going to frack back into the aquifer, I don't know.
Hall: Well, there's no oil or gas there, so they're not really interested in going horizontal at 500 feet underground, anyway. They're going to get a mile or two miles down, before they do any horizontal drilling and start doing the fracking, right?
Pickens: That's right, yes.
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