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Frank Leppell, Keene, N.D., Published February 16 2013

Letter: More about oil pad setbacks near homes

House Bill 1348 would increase setbacks from oil wells to people’s homes from 500 feet to a quarter-mile. I testified in support of the bill. At the hearing, the North Dakota Petroleum Council made the argument that if you get setbacks to 1,000 feet or more, it will cost the surface owner the most. The reality is this would be the most effective way to make the oil companies use the new technology and build multipads instead of single well pads.

Ron Ness of the Petroleum Council stated that 500-foot setbacks affect 18 acres of farmland and 1,000-foot setbacks affect 72 acres. This is something that I apparently don’t understand. I know a single well pad uses six acres and a multi-pad with three wells uses the same acreage. Then, we get six to eight well pads that use approximately 12 acres. Do the math: Eight single well pads use 48 acres versus 12 acres for multiwell pads.

What the people in the counties of the Bakken oil fields don’t realize is the facts of what is intended with this new technology of horizontal drilling to produce the Bakken wells and to cover all the mineral interests. These wells are being drilled so the horizontal bore of each well is approximately 660 feet apart for a length of one to two miles, so this way they need to drill seven or eight across the end of a 640-acre section two miles long for their 1,280-foot spacing. With this new technology, they can and have built multipad well sites with six to 12 wells and still get the well bores approximately 660 feet apart.

Food for thought: This type of drilling covers all of the mineral interest, and they can drill from one mile away and turn 90 degrees and drill another one to two miles, and multiwell pads can save countless acres.

Why are oil companies being allowed to destroy western North Dakota with single well pads and making the largest footprint in North Dakota history?