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Farmers learn about weather insurance, ‘fracking’

Staff writer

Jared Brown, district sales manager for The Climate Control Corporation, promoted purchase of weather insurance by farmers at an ag information meeting Thursday in Marion. The meeting was sponsored by Central National Bank and the Jerry Cady Insurance Agency.

Brown said weather insurance does not replace federal crop insurance; it is a supplement that goes beyond what federal crop insurance covers. It is being offered for the first time in 2012.

The new “total weather insurance” is based on weather events, not on crop performance. Brown said the purpose of the new policy is to protect against extreme weather. It will allow farmers to lock in profits by protecting against weather events that cause production shortfalls.

Just like federal crop insurance, sign-up for the new weather insurance policy is due by March 15.

Drilling

On a big screen at the Marion Community Center, James Roher, a representative of Chesapeake Energy Corporation of Oklahoma City, projected graphics and videos about the drilling process and the modern practice of fracking, or fracturing, of rocks to extract gas or oil. With the advent of horizontal drilling, one well can take the place of many wells on one section of land.

Roher said strict safety guidelines are in place to protect groundwater supplies. The actual production takes place thousands of feet deep. The first 800 feet are protected with a special casing to seal the hole from groundwater. At some point, sometimes as deep as 8,000 feet, drill bits are maneuvered to begin a gradual curve until the well becomes horizontal.

After drilling is complete, steel pipes are cemented in place. Then special drills are sent down to make holes in the pipe at various intervals. A mixture of sand and water is then pumped into the pipe at high pressure. The mixture is driven out of the holes in the pipe to cause fractures in the rock for the release of trapped natural gas or oil.

Roher said the fissures are only about two inches in diameter, and after being stabilized with “proppant” or sand, they are only one inch wide. All of these fissures along a pipe can release a lot of natural gas or oil.

Roher said the days of “wildcatting,” when drilling was hit or miss, are over. By taking core samples of rock, a company can determine with precision where gas or oil will be found.

He said Kansas has the right kind of rock formations to encourage expanded exploration for oil and natural gas.

Last modified March 28, 2012

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