There have been more earthquakes strong enough to be felt in Oklahoma this year than in all of 2013, overwhelming state officials who are trying to determine if the temblors are linked to oil and natural gas production.
The state on April 6 experienced its 109th earthquake of a magnitude 3 or higher, matching the total for all of 2013, according to Austin Holland, a research seismologist with the Oklahoma Geological Survey. More quakes followed, including a magnitude 4 near Langston about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Oklahoma City.
A surge in U.S. oil and gas production by fracturing, or fracking, in which drillers use a mix of water and chemicals to coax liquids from rock formations, has generated large volumes of wastewater. As fracking expanded to more fields, reports have become more frequent from Texas to Ohio of earthquakes linked to wells that drillers use to pump wastewater underground.
“We certainly likely have cases of earthquakes being caused by different oil and gas activity,” Holland said in an interview. “Evaluating those carefully can take significant amounts of time, especially when we’re swamped.”
Within the past year, earthquakes thought to be tied to wastewater disposal wells were recorded in Azle, Texas; Jones, Oklahoma; and northeastern Ohio, according to Art McGarr, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California.
Pumping fracking wastewater underground has been linked to a sixfold jump in quakes in the central U.S. from 2000 to 2011, according to the science agency, part of the Interior Department.
State regulators last year curtailed operations at one Love County injection well and shut down a second after a series of earthquakes in the area, according to Matt Skinner, a spokesman with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. State officials are analyzing a swarm of earthquakes in the past 10 days near Langston, he said.
“This is the area we’re most concerned about,” Skinner said in an interview “We do have injection wells in the area.”
Chad Warmington, president of the Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association of Oklahoma, an industry group, did not respond to a request for comment. The number of earthquakes with suspected connections to injection wells is a small fraction of the number of wells, according to America’s Natural Gas Alliance, an industry group in Washington.
Oklahoma’s biggest recorded earthquake, a 5.7-magnitude temblor near Prague, Oklahoma, on Nov. 6, 2011, was linked to wastewater wells by researchers from the University of Oklahoma, Columbia University and the U.S. Geological Survey.
The state’s geological office said the connection was inconclusive. Prague is about 50 miles east of Oklahoma City and 65 miles southwest of Tulsa.
State regulators last month said well operators should have to record injection well pressure daily instead of monthly. The rule needs state legislature approval and the signature of Governor Mary Fallin.
Arkansas and Ohio have also addressed earthquakes thought to be caused by injection wells with new regulations. Regulators from Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Ohio met for the first time in April in Oklahoma City to exchange information on the man-made earthquakes and help states toughen their standards.
“If we shut down injection wells we’re shutting down oil and gas production in the state,” Holland said. “You certainly don’t want to go shut down a hundred disposal wells in an area and not have the evidence to back that up.”
Oklahoma Swamped by Surge in Earthquakes Near Fracking
Calling hydrocarbons i.e. oil a “Fossil fuel” is a misnomer and a lie. Research has proven that Abiotic oil is the real source of the planets oil, a process known as Serpentinization is responsible; it is a metamorphic process involving olivine (which the Mantle is believed to consist of almost exclusively) and it’s exposure to crustal pressures and temps as well as water produces oil in a chemical process that occurs due to the metamorphic reaction of the mineral olivine transitioning into peridotite and serpentinite.
The ‘powers that were’ are desperately attempting to keep the public ignorant of this so they can charge over a $100 a barrel for the stuff, and on top of that establish a “carbon tax” and credit market worth potentially trillions of dollars. We as consumers are being lied to and fleeced by Big oil and the so-called field of geology, which is a joke and nothing but a paid whipping boy for the Big Oil bunch. Just like our media and everything else. These men own the world, and they don’t want to relinquish their grips. They will go to great lengths to ensure that this doesn’t happen; so great that they will destroy the planet just to keep the herd under their control.
I know that I will face the standard industry troll so bring it on! I am armed with a superior knowledge of the Earths processes than anyone who would wish to debate me about the true geology of our planet and the bull-crap that they proffer in so-called university courses and main-stream media outlets. The world has been dumbed down so bad that most people have become completely incapable of thinking critically, it is a shame to see so many of my brothers and sister walk around so utterly clueless about what the heck is really going on around them.
These Earthquakes are being caused by the collapse of the underlying limestone strata which is being broken apart and disintegrated by the fracking. What I think this is ultimately going to lead to is that Oklahoma, and all the other fracking locales are going to begin seeing enormous sink-holes begin opening and swallowing large parts of the land as the cavities caused by fracking collapse in on themselves. Here’s to blindly charging ahead for the sake of profit above all else, most especially the public safety.
Let’s clarify the technical basics, as the article does not clearly separate the two basic processes, fracking and disposal.
In the actual fracking, high pressure water with a fine sand is used to break up the layer containing gas (or oil). Then, most of the water comes out as “flowback” and the sand stays keeping the cracks up for gas or oil to flow and emerge.
In the injection, this flowback water from multiple fracking wells is transported to a disposal site where in another deep well, it is injected – and is kept there with more coming.
Hence, if you read the article and string search for the magic word “injection” … then you get to the actual problem, the disposal of large amounts of water. That injection disposal process is what needs a solution – not the fracking itself.
Treating the large quantities of wastewater produced during fracking would cause fracking to no longer be financially viable, therefore it will continue to be disposed of by injecting in wells. Your logic is rather circular, considering the fact that fracking and injecting go hand-in-hand. You could apply the same logic to drilling for oil like this: “Drilling for more oil doesn’t contribute to global climate change. It’s burning all that oil that does.”