Drilling company changes plans for fracking project - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Drilling company changes plans for fracking project

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ST. TAMMANY PARISH, LA (WVUE) -

The company that wants to drill for oil in St. Tammany Parish and use the controversial technique of fracking said it wants to compromise with concerned residents. But not everyone sees the phased approach to the project as a compromise.

St. Tammany Parish released a statement Tuesday saying Helis Oil & Gas Company is offering to alter its original plans for the drilling of a well after meeting with state and local leaders. St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister explains, "Their plan before was to dig the well 13,000 feet vertically and then go horizontal, that's where the fracking takes place."

The new plan calls for the company to drill only vertically, analyze the samples over three to four months, and then determine whether future activities are economically feasible. Fracking would only be used if viable quantities of oil are present. Brister said the additional time will allow the parish to craft ordinances to oversee the work. "We can protect our pristine waters and our way of living to some extent and this is noise ordinances, making sure all the water is tested," said Brister.

The new plan isn't sitting well with Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany president Rick Franzo. "When you look at it, there's no change. The compromise, I want someone to explain to me what the compromise is," said Franzo.

Franzo points to a letter Helis sent to the St. Tammany Parish School Board and a parish attorney on April 15. The letter said the plan is to drill vertically. Then, the company will work to determine if the hole has commercial potential. If the company wants to proceed, crews will drill out of the vertical hole, to build a curve, where the horizontal drilling will eventually occur after three to four months of evaluation.

"It clearly says the exact same verbiage," Franzo said.

We asked a spokesperson for Helis if there really is any difference between the new plan and what the letter from last month states. We were told the new plan doesn't involve building the curve and that if the company does want to drill horizontally in the future, it will have to bring in a new rig, which will add additional time and money to the project.

We've asked Helis repeatedly for on-camera interviews but continue to be denied. The company's proposal for the well will be considered next month by the state Department of Natural Resources.

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