OKLAHOMA - A large Oklahoma Oil company agreed to shut down wells.
In an unprecedented move, Sandridge announced they are giving wells to the state to help with seismic research.
The first research of it's kind in the world, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission said no one has been able to provide real-time data of what happens with shifting rocks when water is pumped into them.
The change of heart by the oil company came as a surprise to the state.
"This is a very, very exciting development," said Mat Skinner with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
For the first time in state history, a major oil company is handing over disposal wells in the name of research.
"It supersedes any previous plan we issued, so we have agreed we will drop the court case in exchange for their compliance with this plan and compliance with future plans," Skinner said.
The Sandridge wells were part of an area in Medford that was asked to shut down because of increased seismicity - a legal battle now gone.
"We have an open door suddenly to have a look underground and not so much us but the researchers who really know what they want to see," Skinner said.
Three wells will stop injection, and five wells will go to the Oklahoma Geological Survey for research.
"This is going to be the first time that anyone, a researcher has been able to have access to be able to see what's happening underground in a seismically active area with disposal going on," Skinner said.
Kyle Murray, a hydrogeologist at OGS, is heading up the project.
"We would be measuring pressure essentially in the Arbuckle at various time intervals to try to understand formation," Murray said.
Basically, seeing how the rock moves when water is injected.
"Help us understand what areas might be more prone to triggered seismicity or induced seismicity, and maybe we find some areas we want to avoid," Murray said.
Data could show one of two outcomes: disposal wells needs to stop, or maybe there are certain areas companies should avoid.
"Collecting data that's essential to solving this puzzle, and seeing what contributions saltwater disposal wells have to seismicity," Murray said.
The wells being used for research will not be actively disposing.
They will use them to monitor other wells in the area that do dispose.
President of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association, Chad Warmington, released a statement saying in part:
"'It clearly demonstrates that the oil and gas industry takes our responsibilities seriously as corporate citizens and community partners to develop and use the most current science available to ensure we are making smart and responsible decisions regarding our operations. Again, this is a very positive outcome."