Harvey County Commissioners discussed, but were not ready to approve, an oil and gas lease for Petra Energy — agreeing the lease needed more clarification before it was voted on.
“We’re really, really far from anything that’s finalized,” said John Waltner, county administrator.
“I think perhaps we ought to revisit that contract,” commission chair Marge Roberson said.
According to Waltner, the lease would allow the Louisiana-based company Petra Energy Services LLC to drill for oil or natural gas. The agreement would make it possible for the company to lease land around county land and, through horizontal drilling, access petroleum or natural gas beneath county land.
Although this agreement wouldn’t include drilling into the surface of Harvey County property, the process could involve fracking, Waltner said.
“Fracking,” or hydraulic fracturing, involves creating fractures in a rock layer using pressurized fluid, and it releases petroleum or natural gas for extraction. The process has created some controversy due to concerns fracking could lead to ground water contamination.
The county would like to put in a clause that the location and type of drilling apparatus would need to be approved by the county.
“We’re not anxious to let anybody do something on the surface,” he said.
Petra Energy originally was looking at about 500 acres of county land, but Waltner said the exact amount of acreage to be included in the lease is yet to be determined. He also said it was not a certainty the county would approve a lease.
“We need to be very protective of the rights that we have,” said Anthony Swartzendruber, assistant administrator and finance director for the county.