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Potential Injection-Induced Seismicity Associated with Oil & Gas Development: A Primer on Technical and Regulatory Considerations Informing Risk Management and Mitigation

October 5, 2015
By Ground Water Protection Council and Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission

The proliferation of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as "fracking," for the production of oil and natural gas has led to an energy revolution in the United States.

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The proliferation of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as "fracking," for the production of oil and natural gas has led to an energy revolution in the United States. Fracking has led to decreasing oil imports, economic opportunities, and increased energy security, however, it has also come with environmental concerns.

One of those concerns is earthquakes. Although scientists have concluded the hydraulic fracturing itself is not a significant mechanism for inducing earthquakes large enough to be felt at the surface, the disposal of wastewater generated from oil and natural gas wells into underground injection wells has led to a series of manmade earthquakes in some parts of the country.

No state has experienced a more significant increase in earthquake activity than Oklahoma, which has experienced 585 of the 688 of the recent magnitude three earthquakes and larger in the Midwest, with the increase beginning largely in 2009. Other states, including Ohio, Texas, Kansas, and Arkansas have also experienced earthquakes thought to be related to wastewater injection.

In order to reduce, and ideally, eliminate induced earthquakes from wastewater disposal wells, state regulators, geologists, seismologists, industry, and environmental groups worked together to create this 148 page report detailing how earthquakes can be caused, and the best way to mitigate the risks associated with fluid disposal.

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Energy