, Muskogee, OK

July 21, 2013

State agency works to reduce earthquake risks

Associated Press

— TULSA (AP) — The Oklahoma Geological Survey has begun work on plans to reduce the risk of oil-field work involving injection wells that some believe may be causing earthquakes.

The Tulsa World reported  Saturday that a summary report said the risk of oil field-caused earthquakes is small, but can be reduced even further with “appropriate industry practices” involving injection disposal wells.

“Even though the risk of damaging induced earthquakes is very small, that risk can be mitigated by appropriate industry practices consistent with the current understanding of the science,” according to the summary of a meeting of environmental groups, state agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and oil and gas operators.

The meeting summary said the discussion was “in response to concerns that oil and gas industry operations (specifically, injection of drilling waste and production fluids into the ground) may be a cause of earthquakes.”

The Oklahoma Geological Survey has been skeptical of conclusions that oil-field activity produced a series of earthquakes in and around injection disposal wells in Lincoln County starting in 2001 and including the magnitude-5.7 earthquake on Nov. 6, 2011, that was the largest in recorded state history.

The oil-field activity is not hydraulic fracturing, a process also known as fracking, according to Austin Holland, research seismologist for the Oklahoma Geological Survey.