After a whopping 4.1 earthquake on Friday, even Oklahoma regulators were finally fracking fed up. And they ordered the culprit – a frack waste disposal well – shut down. To bring a little piece and quiet to the prairie. And allow the neighbors time to shore up their walls, file their insurance claims and call their lawyers.
How many cracked walls, cave-ins, busted water lines and nervous nights do you endure before you’re finally fracking fed up with frackquakes ? Don’t get mad. Get even. Sue the frackers, sue their contractors and sue their fracking lawyers. What the frack are you waiting on ?
The order follows a magnitude-4.1 earthquake on Friday.
Posted: Wednesday, February 4, 2015 12:00 am | Updated: 12:44 pm, Wed Feb 4, 2015.
Staff at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission directed that an injection well operated by SandRidge Energy be shut down Tuesday due to continuing earthquakes in Alfalfa County near the Kansas border.
The well is the second active wastewater injection well directed to “shut in” or halt operations by the agency since it began a new monitoring system in 2013.
Matt Skinner, a spokesman for the commission, said agency staff issued the directive Tuesday morning due to a magnitude-4.1 earthquake recorded in the area Friday. The well is just west of the Alfalfa County town of Cherokee.
“They were operating under a ‘yellow light’ permit with language that said shut in if there’s any seismic activity,” Skinner said.
Injection wells are used to dispose of wastewater, laden with salt and toxic chemicals, produced from oil and gas wells. The state has about 3,200 active injection wells that disposed of a combined 1.1 billion barrels of wastewater in 2013.
Due to a huge increase in earthquakes in recent years, the Corporation Commission began using a “traffic light” system in December 2013.
Under the system, wells within a six-mile radius of a magnitude-4.0 earthquake are placed under operating restrictions. If additional earthquakes occur within six miles of an active well in that area, the commission can order the operator to halt injection while more information is gathered.
Dozens of scientific studies since the 1970s, including several studies of Oklahoma earthquakes, have linked injection wells and earthquakes. Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey have also said they believe that the state’s increased seismicity is due to injection wells.
Jeff Wilson, vice president for government and public affairs at SandRidge, said: “We received a notice from the Corporation Commission that under their new monitoring review for saltwater disposal wells, this review process is underway. As we have in the past, and as we continue to do with all Corporation Commission requests, we are working closely with commission staff to provide them any and all information needed.”
The commission held a hearing Nov. 26 on SandRidge’s permit application due to staff concerns about earthquakes in the area, records show. SandRidge asked to dispose of up to 80,000 barrels of wastewater per day, or 29 million barrels per year.
During the hearing, commission staff testified that the well was one mile from recent earthquakes. SandRidge had agreed to submit additional data to the commission on the amount of wastewater it was disposing and the amount of pressure used in the process.
“The UIC (Underground Injection Control) Department had numerous meetings with applicant (SandRidge) and found that applicant was cooperative in working toward attempting to operate in a manner so as to reduce the risk of injection acting as a trigger for induced seismicity in the area,” records of the hearing state.
A consultant for SandRidge, J.P. Dick, testified during the hearing that the company planned to drill numerous horizontal wells in the region, known as the Mississippian.
With the advent of horizontal drilling combined with fracking — or hydraulic fracturing of subsurface rock — the area in north-central Oklahoma and across the border in Kansas has seen a boom in oil drilling. Because of heavy water content in the area, operators there want disposal wells close to drilling operations.
“The cost of water disposal is a significant part of developing the Mississippian common source of supply, and trucking the water to a commercial disposal facility is cost prohibitive,” Dick told the commission.
“Absent the ability to dispose of the water, … the development of the Mississippian common source of supply will cease. Applicant has expended a significant amount of time and money.”
Dick told the commission he had examined well logs for the area and “determined that there is no faulting in the immediate area.” He said “the recent seismic activity in this area appears to be naturally occurring” and the injection well’s operation would not trigger earthquakes in the area.
The well and many others in the state inject into the Arbuckle geologic formation, a porous layer of rock just above the granite “basement” layer. That layer is prone to fracturing and faults, so the commission requires tests to ensure that wells don’t penetrate the basement rock.
After hearing testimony in November, the commission granted a permit for SandRidge to dispose of up to 40,000 barrels per day, half the requested amount.
“Any action … to suspend or restrict operations shall be based upon the scientific analysis of all available data to determine and manage the risk of triggered seismicity,” the order states.
Records show that commission staff also issued a directive to halt injection at a Payne County well operated by Devon Energy on Nov. 10 due to continuing earthquakes in that area. The well had been permitted to dispose of 25,000 barrels per day following a hearing in September.
A spokesman for Devon declined to comment on the matter.
The commission has taken a number of other actions as part of its monitoring system. Staff issued directives on Jan. 5 for five Devon wells to temporarily halt operations, records show. The company must demonstrate that its wells are at the proper depth before they can resume operations.
Skinner said a meeting between commission staff and Devon is set for next week to discuss the wells.