Unfortunately, earthquakes in Oklahoma have become all too common. Oklahoma has always been seismically active, but has been largely dormant for most of our lifetime. The surge in earthquake activity has us all asking the question, “why now?”. Here’s what we know.
The Oklahoma Geological Survey has recently determined that the majority of recent earthquakes in central and north-central Oklahoma are very likely triggered by the injection of produced water in disposal wells deep into the Arbuckle Formation. Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas industry is working feverishly with regulators and scientists to alter disposal well operations in earthquake-susceptible areas. Those efforts include plugging back wells, reducing well volumes and in several instances, shutting wells down. In fact, wastewater disposal volumes have been reduced by nearly 1 million barrels a day, affecting more than 700 wells disposing into the Arbuckle Formation in a 17,000 square-mile area.
In an effort to understand the issue at hand, the oil and natural gas industry has voluntarily donated more than 450 million dollars in proprietary data and reported more than 19,527 miles of previously unknown faults to the Oklahoma Geological Survey. In addition, 14 injection wells have been donated to the state for seismic research. Access to these wells will allow researchers to see real-time data of how water pressures and volumes affect the formation. All of this data will help operators better understand what areas might be more prone to triggered seismicity or induced seismicity and identify any areas disposal wells shouldn’t be located altogether.
Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas industry is tackling the issue head on and will continue to cooperate with state officials and scientists to find a solution.
Want to know more about what industry experts, scientists and regulators are doing to better understand these seismic events in Oklahoma? Take a look at our “Understanding Earthquakes in Oklahoma” video, download our earthquake fact sheet and share our infographics with your friends, colleagues and family.