411 on Prop 112: An in-depth look at oil and gas operations

GREELEY, Colo. - As the November election gets closer, the FOX31 Problem Solvers are committed to keeping you informed about Proposition 112.

It's the voter initiative that would make most new oil and gas wells be at least 2,500 feet away from homes, schools, businesses and more.

Currently, those setbacks - as they're called - are at 500 feet for homes and 1,000 feet for schools, hospitals and other high-occupancy buildings.

The Problems Solvers received an up-close look at oil and gas operations with SRC Energy at three of the company's sites in and around Greeley.

After permitting, the operation begins when a derrick drills down about 6,500 to 7,000 feet, then out up to two miles.

"We can do 5,000 feet a day," said SRC Energy drilling engineer Ashley Belvin. "We`re here to drill the well, case the well and then cement the well."

That casing is in a thick metal pipe, that is cemented on either side.

The next step in the development process is what's commonly called fracking.

SRC is currently doing that at a site just outside of Greeley.

"Hydraulic fracturing is basically just using fluid, which is the hydraulic portion of it, to separate the rock (and) crack the rock," said SRC's Chief Operating Officer Mike Eberhard. "When we do that, it allows us to put sand in the formation."

The oil and gas will then travel to the surface through that sand.

Eberhard told the Problem Solvers that in the last decade, technology has drastically changed the oil and gas industry and made it better for the environment.

The fracking pumps are now housed in trucks to reduce noise. Water is piped in, instead of trucked in. Sound walls keep the sites quieter and reduce light at night.

"We know we’re impacting the community when we’re here," Eberhard said. "And we try to minimize that and work with them."

About six months after the drilling begins, the oil and gas construction phase is complete.

Then the site is drastically reduced in size and the oil and gas are pumped to separators, which separate oil, water and gas and pump it to the correct facility.

In the Weld County area, the wells usually stay active for about 20 to 30 years, Eberhard said.

After that time, the the oil and gas company removes the equipment and returns the land to the way it was before the production began.

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