The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 26, 2011

An endless supply of energy ...

Local oilman thrilled with the possibilities future holds for U.S.

By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

— Oilman Lew Ward said his company Ward Petroleum is employing new technology to continue its oil and gas efforts in the state.

Ward Petroleum is drilling horizontal wells and using fracturing technology to get further production from wells in Oklahoma, he said.

“Drilling horizontal wells and utilizing new fracture technologies is something that is very beneficial to the local oil and gas industry,” Ward said.

Fracturing — which first became a practice in the oil and gas industry in the 1950s — involves pumping fluid that has the capacity to hold other materials to fracture rocks, allowing oil and gas to flow into the fractures and be collected.

Ward said fracturing has evolved, using different fluids that carry sand or other particles, such as glass or ceramic beads, and pumping them into rocks to create fractures.

Ward called newer technology a “game changer” for the entire industry.

“Three years ago, few horizontal wells were being drilled,” he said, noting wells typically were fractured in two to four stages. “Now, you might be drilling a horizontal as much as 5,000 feet, and there may be as many as 30 stages of fracture.”

When he began his career decades ago, Ward said he never thought he’d see the types of technology being used in the industry.

“Never in the slightest. Ten years ago I wouldn’t begin to think what might be possible today,” he said.

He said those new in the business are advancing, as if advancement of the technology was “contagious.”

“They’re looking at things with a whole new set of eyes,” he said. “New technologies, new creations are all taking place.”

Ward said he sees advancement in energy technology helping the U.S. become less dependent upon foreign energy. He said an energy plan making the country less depen-dent on foreign sources is needed.

The country produces about 5 million barrels of crude oil a day and imports another 13 million, he said.

“We’re paying that money to people who don’t like us too well and that doesn’t make much sense,” he said. “Eventually, we need to have an energy policy that whittles down on the amount we import and allow us to increase the amount we produce domestically.”

An increasing amount of up-heaval in the Middle East may limit U.S. access to oil from that region in the future. Ward said the country needs to become more self-sufficient in producing its own energy.

“We need an energy policy more than ever,” he said. “Now is the time to make sure everybody works together to make sure we have one.”

One of the first places to begin, Ward said, is to explore for oil in domestic areas, such as Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.

“We have an adequate supply of places to drill,” he said. “We have a restriction on the places where we can drill and we have a lot of restrictions on the ability of the industry to do its job. Let’s explore for oil that is found in Alaska and the oil and gas that’s found off-shore, especially off-shore the Atlantic seaboard and Gulf of Mexico.”

During that time, Ward said alternate energy sources, such as solar, nuclear, natural gas liquids, compressed natural gas and wide “utilization of wind energy,” should be investigated. Once alternative energy sources can compete with hydrocarbon energy sources the dependence on foreign energy will de-crease. Ward said he believes it’s possible for the U.S. to be independent of foreign sources of energy.

“It just depends on how quickly these alternative fuels become available,” he said. “Consider the amount of power there would be if we were able to contain the energy in sea water and how much electrically could be created by energy generators that were using the energy of the oceans. There’s so many things like that that we haven’t even thought of.

“There’s a point where that becomes economical, and there’s so much of it. It’s hard to imagine you could actually have a surplus of energy when you start using all the different forms we have available.”