Seeking to Reduce Earthquakes, Oklahoma Orders Oil and Gas Cuts

by | August 5, 2015

By Adam Wilmoth

Disposal well operators in parts of Logan and Oklahoma counties must cut their water volumes over the next 60 days under new guidelines the Oklahoma Corporation Commission put in place Monday.

The commission's Oil and Gas Conservation Division said operators of the 23 wells in the Logan County trend area are to reduce disposal volumes by 38 percent.

The plan would cut the total disposal volume in the area to 2.4 million barrels less than levels from 2012, which is when seismicity jumped in the area, the commission stated.

"I fully support going forward with a plan based on volume cuts, and am pleased to see a real beginning in that regard," Commissioner Dana Murphy said in a statement.

"This is an issue completely outside the scope of the experience of not only this agency, but all our partner agencies and stakeholders as well."

Seismologists have warned of the potential risks of causing earthquakes by injecting large volumes of water and by injecting in the crystalline basement rock, which lies beneath the Arbuckle rock layer.

"There was a time when the scientific, legal, policy and other concerns related to this issue had to first be carefully researched and debated in order to provide a valid framework for such action. That time is over," Murphy said.

"Based on the research and analysis of the data compiled, we must continue to take progressive steps, and do so as quickly as possible as part of the continuing efforts to resolve this complex and challenging issue."

Monday's action follows after the commission in March required the operators of more than 300 disposal wells to prove they weren't injecting through the Arbuckle and into the crystalline basement. If they were, operators were told to plug back the wells or reduce volumes.

Last month, another 211 wells were added to the list, bringing the total to 576.

As of Monday, 137 wells were plugged back to shallower depths, 15 were plugging back, 51 were limiting their volumes to less than 1,000 barrels of produced water per day, 123 proved they were at proper depth, 23 had cut injection rates in half and 41 were not injecting.

(c)2015 The Oklahoman