4.7 magnitude earthquake among 4 recorded in Oklahoma

1 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

4.7 magnitude earthquake among 4 recorded in Oklahoma.

MEDFORD, Okla. (AP) — Four earthquakes have been recorded in Oklahoma, with the strongest a 4.7 magnitude quake felt throughout much of the state and into Kansas. The next day, a 3.0 magnitude quake sprang up about 40 miles southeast of Norman, Okla., capping off a run of 23 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or higher in a seven-day period. In response to the Nov. 19 quake, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission released a plan calling for two disposal wells to stop operations and for many others to cut down in volume. Oklahoma Geological Survey Director Jeremy Boak said it’s a smart move because, he said, there’s a clear link between disposal wells and seismic activity in Oklahoma, and he would like to see a balanced approach that allows scientists and policy makers to gather more information. Jack Dake, a land manager for Baron Exploration Co., said the Corporation Commission’s measured approach is a good one, but may not be worth the trouble.

Dake, who has been in the industry since 1978, doesn’t believe that human activity is responsible for Oklahoma’s uptick in quakes and believes the commission may be taking action just to take action. “The commission was one of the first groups to look at earthquake causation and to consider whether or not oil and gas activities were a factor,” Dake said. “The commission has reason behind what they’re doing, but it’s not proof. This is simply to see if, and that’s a big if, if it’s related and perhaps there is no more prudent effort that the OCC can institute than what they’ve done, but as of today, to the best of my knowledge and belief, no one knows whether this means anything or not, other than they feel like the commission is doing something.” According to Boak, about 95 percent of the water being injected into disposal wells is formation water — water that was already present in the ground prior to fracking operations. “The water that comes out is ancient seawater,” he said. “It’s been sitting there for millions of years, getting more concentrated all the time to the point where it’s saltier even than Dead Sea water, which is already toxic to you by itself, in addition to, of course, the generated petroleum in there. … So, it’s not good stuff.

The massive hub in Cushing, where domestic crude oil enters the energy market, is dotted with hundreds of airplane hangar-sized tanks that hold an estimated 54 million barrels of oil. “I have had conversations with Homeland Security. You have to dispose of it.” Boak said for years, the best destination for that waste has been the Arbuckle group sediment, because of its immense depth and distance from groundwater. It’s fracking related, but he said the fracking itself is not the problem. “The most ardent anti-frackers will insist that because the particular play being worked in is a fracking play, that fracking causes those earthquakes,” Boak said. “But there are plays that are water-rich that don’t get fracked, or get fracked in much less serious ways, and it isn’t the fracking itself that causes the earthquakes.

To this point, he said it’s hard to tell with clarity what is driving the reduced injection volumes — the economy or the OCC’s efforts. “We’re just beginning to get our hands on how that localization takes place and what it might tell us on how many wells we might have to throttle back on,” he said. As long as they’re responding quickly, I think we’re doing useful things to try and scale it back until we have a better angle on how to completely control it.” Ultimately, Dake said he doesn’t see the need for any more control through regulation. He said earthquakes are normal and just because there’s an increase doesn’t automatically point to human activity as a cause. “To have periods of quiet and significant periods of activity is normal,” Dake said. “… The Pacific Rim has been experiencing increasingly significant activities, both earthquakes and volcanoes, for at least the past 10 years.

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