On January 13, 2016, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) announced the launch of a new emergency action plan in response to recent earthquakes near the Fairview area in north central Oklahoma. On January 4, the USGS reported a swarm of earthquakes including a magnitude 4.8 earthquake located less than 20 miles from the Fairview area. As a result, the Commission called for changes in disposal well operating activities, imposing a total disposal volume reduction of approximately 18% for 27 wells in the area.
Interestingly, the Commission stated that “the seismic events that occurred during the week of January 4th, 2016, in the Fairview area appear to have a very close correlation to the storms that created power outages in such area. It is believed that the power outage may have created a situation where a number of producing wells were shut in, then simultaneously came back on line. When the wells began producing again, this apparently resulted in a tremendous volume of produced water being disposed into the Arbuckle formation at the same time.”
Therefore, the Commission recommended a gradual return to activity in similar incidents to mitigate the potential seismic impacts.
Written by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow