Officials announce plan to prevent earthquakes in central Oklahoma

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Oklahoma Disposal Well Site

OKLAHOMA CITY – Additional measures are being taken to prevent earthquakes in central Oklahoma following several strong quakes in recent months.

On Feb. 25,  the U.S. Geological Survey recorded a 3.6 magnitude earthquake near Langston.

However, the area around Fairview continues to be affected by earthquakes.

On March 6, the U.S. Geological Survey recorded a 4.0 magnitude earthquake 17 miles from Fairview. Just four days earlier, the USGS recorded a 4.3 magnitude quake in the same area.

On Monday, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s Oil and Gas Conservation Division announced that it is continuing to reduce the amount of wastewater injected by disposal wells near the Arbuckle formation. It’s all in an effort to stop earthquakes from occurring near central Oklahoma.

Officials say the new measure will cover more than 5,000 square miles and affects more than 400 disposal wells in the Arbuckle formation.

“The western and central Oklahoma actions combined cover over 10,000 square miles and more than 600 Arbuckle disposal wells,” said Tim Baker, the division’s director.

Baker says the new plan hopes to reduce the total volume of wastewater injected in the area to 40 percent below the 2014 total.

“This means a reduction of more than 300,000 barrels a day from the 2015 average injection volumes,” Baker said.

In addition to those measures, officials say they are also expanding the so-called “Area of Interest,” which would increase restrictions on several other disposal wells nearby.

“This will result in 118 more Arbuckle disposal wells being covered by so-called “yellow light” earthquake precautions. These include having to prove the well has not been drilled too deep in order to keep operating, and daily and weekly volume recording and reporting requirements,” Baker said. “It also eliminates the possibility of administrative approval of a new Arbuckle disposal well application. The AOI expansion is a proactive move to get ahead of the earthquake activity,” Baker said. “The central Oklahoma volume reduction plan covers an area where we have taken numerous, localized actions over the past 12 months, such as in the Cushing, Crescent, and Edmond areas. But the research and data has grown to provide the basis needed to both expand into a regional approach for volume reduction and increase the size of the AOI.”

In recent months, the Corporation Commission has enacted plans to reduce wastewater injection volumes following several large earthquakes.

In February, officials announced a plan for a 40 percent reduction that affects 245 wells in northwest Oklahoma.

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