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Oil and gas industries face new rules following recent earthquake swarms

OKLAHOMA – We continue to experience Oklahoma’s earthquake outbreak.

There were nearly a dozen quakes Thursday alone.

But are some of them caused by oil and gas drilling operations?

The state Corporation Commission is now teaming up with the Oklahoma Geological Survey – to get to the bottom of the increased seismic activity.

Oklahoma has seen more than its share of quakes in recent years.

Some residents reported cracks and other damage.

One theory researchers have – after rock is fractured to release oil and natural gas, the waste-water has to be injected down a “disposal well.”

If water pressure builds near a fault line, it could act like ‘grease’ to the fault, allowing the rock to slip – causing an earthquake.

The Commission has approved a new rule for companies to report their injection rates every day, instead of monthly.

That means the volume of disposed water, as well as the water pressure data, can be reviewed by researchers faster and more often.

That will help them discover if there are links to where disposal wells are located – and where earthquakes are triggered.

“The issue in Oklahoma is, is that happening anywhere here?” Corporation Commissioner Spokesman Matt Skinner said Thursday, “and in those cases where it might be happening, what is the prudent thing for us to do?

“According to the seismologists, what they really need is to be able to get a true snap shot in real-time with what’s happening with that well.”

Of the state’s 4,500 waste-water disposal wells, about 800 will have digital monitors to provide those daily water volume and pressure reports.

The legislature and governor still have to approve the new rule.