The Oklahoma Corporation Commission have issued an order to reduce fracking by 50% due to a recent spike in earthquake activity, which they say is a direct result of fracking activity.
At least a dozen earthquakes hit Oklahoma City in less than a week last week, which officials say is ‘highly unusual’.
Yahoo News reports:
are working with researchers on the entire area of the state involved
in the latest seismic activity to plot out where we should go from
here,” Oil and Gas Conservation Division Director Tim Baker said, adding
that responding to the swarm of earthquakes in the region was an
Oklahoma has become one of the most
earthquake-prone areas in the world, with the number of quakes magnitude
3.0 or greater skyrocketing from a few dozen in 2012 to more than 800
in 2015. Many of the earthquakes are occurring in swarms in areas where
injection wells pump salty wastewater — a byproduct of oil and gas
production — deep into the earth.
George Choy, a U.S. Geological
Survey seismologist in Denver, said studies indicate that earthquakes in
certain areas have been induced by wastewater disposal. About 200
million barrels was disposed in the state each month in 2015, he said.
activity or slowing it down would be a prudent measure,” Choy said.
“The science here is still developing. What we need to know is more
about the geology, more about the existence of faults.”
three earthquakes were recorded Monday in the Stillwater area, about 50
miles northeast of Edmond. The largest was a magnitude 3.2 quake,
according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Baker said his agency also was
looking at the new seismic activity.
The response plan announced
Monday calls for one well located 3.5 miles from the center of
earthquake activity near Edmond to reduce disposal volumes by 50 percent
and four other located between six and 10 miles away by 25 percent.
Other wells within 15 miles of the activity will conduct reservoir
Compliance with the plan is voluntary at this
point, though none of the operators have raised objections. The
commission said the operator of the well closest to the earthquake
activity, Pedestal Oil Company Inc., has agreed to suspend operations
entirely to assist the agency’s research effort.
The operator of
another well, Devon Energy Production Co., has also agreed to suspend
operations, and no objections have been raised by the operators of the
other wells, agency spokesman Matt Skinner said.
Other changes had
already been made in response to the quakes. Over the past year, agency
directives resulted in 197 wastewater disposal wells reducing the depth
of their operations and 14 wells reducing disposal volumes by half,
according to the commission.
In addition, applications for
disposal wells are reviewed for potential seismicity, and wells
operating in earthquake-prone areas have to record and report their
volumes and pressures to be analyzed by researchers.
Art McGarr, a
USGS seismologist in Menlo Park, California, said geologists have
recommended better monitoring to identify at an early stage which wells
are capable of inducing a damaging earthquake.
“We’ve pointed out
that the earthquakes are increasing dramatically, and they are
continuing to increase,” McGarr said. “Injecting at different depths may
or may not provide a solution to the problem.”