September 18, 2021

No Known Timeline on Improvements to OK Seismic Activity Following Mitigation Efforts

There is no way to know how long it might be before Oklahoma sees a reduction in seismic activity following the new risk mitigation measures put in place by state regulators this year, an Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) spokesperson told Oilman on Nov. 16.

The spokesperson said that the efforts by regulators and the industry to reduce injections into Oklahoma’s Arbuckle formation may not have an immediate effect.

Furthermore, the OCC has been advised by geologists that, even if an area has no seismic activity for six months, for example, “we still shouldn’t take our eyes off it,” he said.

The OCC said in early November that it is taking additional steps to expand the increased efforts that are underway to reduce the risk of earthquakes that the OCC says are “potentially triggered by salt water disposal wells.”

In a Nov. 10 advisory, the OCC said it has launched a plan to reduce the risk of induced earthquakes in an area of Medford in Grant County, Okla., that experienced numerous earthquakes from Nov. 7 to Nov. 10.

According to Oklahoma Geological Survey data, Grant County from Oct. 17 to Nov. 16 experienced 133 earthquakes, 16 of which were 3.4 magnitude or higher. The number of earthquakes in Grant County accounted for almost half of all the earthquakes reported in Oklahoma during the 30-day period.

The OCC said the latest update to its ongoing mitigation plan calls for disposal wells injecting into the Arbuckle formation to change operations based on the distance from the center of the recent activity.

Affected operators include Sandridge Exploration, Kirkpatrick Oil Company, Primexx Operating Corp., Union Valley Petroleum, and Special Energy Corp.

The OCC in October issued similar directives to expand on its plan to address seismic activity in Cushing in Payne County, Okla. According to an Oct. 19 advisory, the update called for operational changes at a total of 13 disposal wells in the region.

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