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Brewster Bevis: Matrix acidizing is not ‘fracking’

Frankly, this rhetoric is dangerous

With the 2019 Legislative Session ending soon, the Florida Legislature hasn’t, and probably won’t, pass legislation to ban fracking this year. As the voice of Florida business, AIF is happy with this outcome, as we know there isn’t currently “fracking” going on in the state.

What is occurring in Florida is a conventional practice that the industry has used for years known as matrix acidizing. The discussion this session on fracking at committee hearing after committee hearing was highjacked by a group that intentionally spread misinformation with the intent to cause panic about this conventional practice.

Frankly, this rhetoric is dangerous, because if Florida lawmakers are led to believe that this oil development practice is as harmful as critics claim and they decided to ban it along with fracking, it would put an entire industry — an industry that’s practiced safely and been a part of Florida’s economy for 70-plus years — out of business in the state.

In Northwest Florida, for example, oil production is the bedrock of the City of Jay’s economy. The community there has safely developed and produced oil since 1970, producing approximately 330 million barrels of oil since that time. This is a rural community that relies on their wells to provide jobs for residents and pumps revenue back into the local community. If matrix acidizing was made illegal, this would kill jobs in the community and essentially decimate their local economy.

In Southwest Florida, Collier Resources Company manages and leases mineral rights for the purpose of oil exploration, development and production at various oil fields. Since 1943, when crude oil production began in Florida, more than 120 million barrels of oil have been produced on Collier-owned minerals. This development and production have occurred in a safe and environmentally sound manner thanks to Florida’s stringent environmental regulations and the unique geological formation in Southwest Florida; yet, opponents of the oil industry would seek to stop this production, that is going on today, and eliminate jobs and negatively impact the economy.

Fortunately, science and facts just are not on the critics’ side when it comes to matrix acidizing. The reality is that it is a widely accepted technique that has safely and successfully been used to improve well productivity for nearly 120 years. Not only has the oil and gas industry used matrix acidizing to improve well productivity on developed wells that have been producing for many years, but counties and municipalities have also used this technique – and still do today – to get more water from the ground to serve the public.

Matrix acidizing does not pose a threat to Florida’s environment or groundwater supplies, or our state’s public health and welfare. The process uses an acid mixture to dissolve a small amount of limestone or other materials that are restricting movement to improve flow to a well. Any acid that is accidentally spilled will be neutralized in the soil and in the formation.

I encourage all those who are interested in Florida’s oil and gas industry, or want to learn more about matrix acidizing, to take a look at the science backing its safe and effective use, as well as its use throughout history.

While this discussion may be over for the 2019 session, we can expect the opponents of this conventional practice to come back in force in 2020, and we cannot let a “fracking” ban become a trojan horse for banning the safe, responsible development of oil and gas in the State of Florida.

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Brewster Bevis is the senior vice president of state and federal affairs for the Associated Industries of Florida.

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