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Sandridge Energy avoids court battle, agrees to shut down seven disposal wells

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Oklahoma Disposal Well Site

OKLAHOMA CITY – It seems that one of the largest oil companies in the state decided to avoid a courtroom battle with an Oklahoma agency.

Last year, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission announced it would seek legal action against Sandridge Energy after it refused to follow recommendations.

The state had asked Sandridge Energy to shut down six wells in the Medford/Cherokee area, but the company refused.

“Sandridge isn’t the first one that has protested, but they’re the ones that have had the largest effect, the largest impact so far,” said Sarah Terry-Cobo with the Journal Record.

On Wednesday, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission announced that Sandridge officials had changed their tune.

In a news release, the commission said Sandridge agreed to reduce the volume of wastewater being injected in the Medford and Cherokee area and will convert some wells from disposal to research operations.

“Under the plan, Sandridge has agreed to remove seven wells from disposal operations and cut back its total volume for the areas in question by 40 percent or approximately 191,000 barrels a day,” said Tim Baker, the director of the commission’s Oil and Gas Conservation Division. “Of the seven wells that will stop disposal, three will cease operation entirely, while the remaining four will be used as monitoring wells in an Oklahoma Geological Survey research project. Also, a well that has been unused will be given to researchers, making for a total of five wells dedicated to research.”

Officials said the commission had planned to file a case to force Sandridge’s hand, but company leaders said they came to an agreement.

“For the first time, researchers will have data that shows what is happening underground in real-time when it comes to disposal and seismicity,” Baker said. “This OGS project will be in the forefront of the effort to learn not only more about what can be done about the current earthquake issue but also what can be done to better identify and manage future risk.”

“This is a very positive outcome. The processes at the Corporation Commission have worked exactly as they were intended. SandRidge was able to work with the OCC using an extensive review of data and science in order to achieve a very positive outcome. SandRidge has additionally agreed to develop and pay for a significant new data collection program that will be used by the Oklahoma Geological Survey, Oklahoma Corporation Commission and other researchers to make smarter, more informed and impactful regulatory decisions. 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,” said Oklahoma Oil & Gas Association President Chad Warmington.