Earthquake trends in Oklahoma related to wastewater injection


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❝ According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the number of earthquakes east of the Rocky Mountains has increased dramatically since 2009. More earthquakes in these areas have coincided with the increase in oil and natural gas production from shale formations. Seismic events caused by human activity — also known as induced seismicity — are most often caused by the underground injection of wastewater produced during the oil and natural gas extraction process…

Before 2009, Oklahoma might have experienced one to two low-magnitude earthquakes per year. Since 2014, Oklahoma has experienced one to two low-magnitude earthquakes per day, with a few instances of higher magnitude (between magnitude 5 and 6) earthquakes that caused some damage.

In addition to the increased use of wastewater injection related to oil and natural gas production in the region, the geologic conditions in central Oklahoma are conducive to triggering seismic activity. The rock underlying the formations where disposal water is being injected in the region has existing faults that are susceptible to the changing stresses caused by fluid injection. Without these geologic conditions, induced seismicity would be much less common. For example, induced seismicity in the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana is relatively rare.

❝ The USGS in 2017 issued an updated seismic hazard forecast for the central and eastern United States. This forecast attempts to estimate the chance of damage caused by earthquakes in the region of interest. The 2017 forecasted seismic rates are still significantly elevated compared with pre-2009 levels but lower than their peak in 2015.

The USGS report indicates that the recent decline may be related to decreased wastewater injection, because production in the region has decreased since the 2014 drop in oil prices. Actions by authorities in various states to regulate wastewater injection practices and restrict injection into the most sensitive areas may also be helping to reduce both the number and intensity of small earthquakes.

Give ’em a chance, folks. My experience with fossil fuel producers in Gulf States and the Permian Basin tell me nothing trumps profits. Not damage to the environment. Not light-to-medium damage to homes and businesses. It will take heavy-duty death and destruction to press these greedy bastards to find healthier ways to fill their pockets.

So, um, how did you celebrate Oilfield Prayer Day?

❝ In an announcement we only wish were part of an SNL cold open, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin proclaimed Oct. 13 Oilfield Prayer Day. All you need to celebrate is rest, relaxation, and a solemn request to the heavens to make fracking great again.

❝ The official statewide initiative is the brainchild of Fallin and Reverend Tom Beddow, who runs the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s Oil Path Chaplains ministry. “We’re asking churches all over Oklahoma to open their doors, put on a pot of coffee, and pray for the oil field,” Beddow told The Oklahoman. While originally calling upon only Christians, Fallin revised the proclamation Monday to beseech oil-enthusiasts of all faiths.

❝ Last month, Oklahoma saw a 5.8 magnitude earthquake — the state’s largest in recorded history — in an area regularly injected with wastewater from oil and gas companies. That type of wastewater disposal has been linked to earthquakes. With that in mind, Oilfield Prayer Day seems a distasteful addition to a week filled with real holidays such as Indigenous People’s Day and Yom Kippur.

Given the dedication to 14th Century ideology practiced by both state and citizens in Oklahoma, none of this surprises me. There is little of our Constitutional separation of church and state at offer in that benighted state.

More earthquakes hit Oklahoma — concern rises as wastewater injection continues


Local damage in Edmonds homes over here

A 4.2 magnitude earthquake struck north Oklahoma City early on New Year’s Day, the latest in a series of temblors in the area in recent days that has prompted state regulators to call for more restrictions on oil and gas operators.

No injuries and only minor damage were reported with the quake, which struck at 5.39am on Friday near Edmond, about 16 miles north-east of Oklahoma City…

The city of Edmond reported about 4,400 power outages in the area shortly after the quake, but it was not clear if the two were related and power was restored within a few hours.

The temblor is the latest of at least a dozen since Tuesday, when a 4.3 magnitude earthquake was recorded.

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. As a result, state regulators have begun reducing the volume or shutting down disposal wells in response.

…the Edmond area has not previously been associated with the activity.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission issued a statement on Friday saying its Oil and Gas Division staff would have blah, blah, blah – to say on Monday.

Remember, folks. This is Oklahoma. Politicians oppose pretty much any policies not called for in the Old Testament. My experience in the oil industry suggests a few more buck$ will magically appear in campaign funds, decisions about sanity and safety will be pushed back until a disaster the size of a world-class tornado occurs. Even then, change will be managed county-by-county. Back-slappers with full wallets still rule Oil Country.

Wastewater from Big Oil triggers surge in small earthquakes

Massive injections of wastewater from the oil and gas industry are likely to have triggered a sharp rise in earthquakes in the state of Oklahoma.

Researchers say there has been a forty-fold increase in the rate of quakes in the US state between 2008-13.

The scientists found that the disposal of water in four high-volume wells could be responsible for a swarm of tremors up to 35km away.

Their research has been published in the journal, Science…

There has been increasing evidence of links between the process of oil and gas extraction and earthquakes in states like Arkansas, Texas, Ohio and Oklahoma in recent years…

The US Geological Survey (USGS) has also reported on the question of seismicity induced by wastewater disposal.

This new research goes further, linking a large swarm of Oklahoma tremors with a number of specific water wells, distantly located.

More than 2,500 earthquakes greater than magnitude 3.0 have occurred around the small town of Jones since 2008. This represents about 20% of the total in the central and western US in this period.

Researchers have now linked this increase to a near doubling in the volumes of wastewater disposed of in the central Oklahoma region between 2004 and 2008.

Water is never far away in the energy extraction process. It is used not just for hydraulic fracturing, but also to squeeze more oil out of conventional wells…

According to Dr Bill Ellsworth from the USGS, the high price of oil has driven this water-based approach. But the law says that drinking water has to be protected from the salty flow.

“As part of the business model, you have to be able to dispose of these very large volumes of saline water. You can’t treat it; you can’t put it into the rivers. So, you have to inject it underground…”

Most studies like this always characterize quakes around 3.0 magnitude as small. There is the possibility that all these little quakes are what folks are forced to put up with – until the Big One.

Thanks, Mike