Multiple techniques used in Florida

There are multiple oil well treatments used in the state of Florida which involve injecting chemicals into a well with the intent of enhancing oil production.  The term “well stimulation” encompasses all of these treatments and can be defined as:

Well stimulation means a well intervention performed by injecting fluid into a rock formation in order to increase production at an oil or gas well by improving the flow of hydrocarbons from the formation into the wellbore. Well stimulation does not include routine well cleaning that does not affect the integrity of the well or the formation.

Examples of well stimulation include acidizing, acid fracturing, hydraulic fracturing, and other chemical treatments. Well stimulation operations rely on numerous chemicals which may be harmful to human health including substances which may cause organ damage, birth defects and cancer. During well stimulation, a mixture of chemicals and water are injected into the well to fracture or dissolve oil bearing rock and improve the flow of oil into the well. 

Well stimulation is different from routine well cleaning in that routine cleaning targets the wellbore while well stimulation targets the rock formation. A simple formula can be used to distinguish between the two.

Risks associated with well stimulation

There are several risks associated with the use of well stimulation techniques.

Potential surface or groundwater contamination:

Spills or leaks of oil and/or injection fluids can have devastating effects on aquifers. Contamination can occur through surface spills, faulty well casings, or underground pathways such as nearby improperly plugged wells or fractures in the rock formation. Furthermore, well stimulation generates large quantities of waste water which, if disposed of improperly, present an additional threat to water quality.

Depletion of water supplies:

Well stimulation procedures use thousands of gallons of freshwater mixed with toxic chemicals. This water can never be reused as drinking water and must ultimately be permanently removed from water supplies by disposing of it below ground. This loss of water from the water cycle can place significant strain on drinking water supplies.

Emergency response crises:

Inappropriate well siting near residential areas infringes on private property rights and puts citizens in danger. Additionally, trade secret claims on well operating procedures and chemicals used leave local governments without information needed to properly respond to emergency situations.

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