OK Oil Wells Shut after Quakes

Thursday, July 30, 2015 @ 05:07 PM gHale

While they were not huge, the multiple earthquakes that hit Oklahoma Monday were strong enough to shut down oil well operations near Crescent, OK, officials said.

The shut downs occurred Tuesday morning after the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s Oil & Gas Division contacted the wells operators. Two wells shut down and operators reduced injection at third.

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Five earthquakes hit the Crescent, OK, area Monday. The largest registered as a magnitude 4.5. Two others were over the 4.0 mark and ended up felt in several parts of Kansas. The other two registered at 2.5 and 3.3.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, another 3.1 M earthquake struck about three miles northeast of Crescent around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Stephens Production and Devon Energy each voluntarily closed one well, and Stephens reduced operations at another well by 50 percent, said Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Matt Skinner.

“In this case, we didn’t have to issue a directive. We simply called them up and said what we were looking at,” Skinner said. “In terms of fast cooperation from the industry, there’s always exceptions to the rule, but broadly speaking we’ve had very fine cooperation.”

Crescent is a town of about 1,400 people that’s about 35 miles north of Oklahoma City.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates the oil and gas industry in the state, just unveiled plans to place more than 200 disposal wells under scrutiny as it investigates whether injecting wastewater deep underground is triggering earthquakes. An Oklahoma Geological Survey report in April said it was “very likely” the practice prompted most of the state’s recent earthquakes.

The quakes are occurring along a fault line that extends for about 50 miles across Logan County, which is north of the Oklahoma City area, Austin Holland, seismologist for the Oklahoma Geological Survey, said.

“It’s a good-size fault,” Holland said. “And we are certainly looking at a greater potential for a larger earthquake.

“The likelihood of a significant earthquake has increased based on what we understand about earthquake scaling relationships and our increased rate of seismicity.”

The largest recorded earthquake in Oklahoma history was a 5.6 earthquake centered near the town of Prague in November 2011.