Earthquake shuts down fracturing at Oklahoma well site

BRIDGE CREEK, Okla. - A drilling site shutdown - all because of an earthquake.

A 3.4 magnitude quake rattled nerves in towns like Tuttle, Bridge Creek and the Blanchard areas Sunday.

"My husband wasn't sure and goes 'Did you feel that?' and I said that was an earthquake," said Stephanie McCarthy.

McCarthy said there was no doubt in her mind about what she felt and heard.

"I knew immediately what it was," she said.

The quake was brought on by drilling at a site near Highway 4 and Fox Lane operated by Roan Resources.

"I felt a big boom, and another big boom and things rattling in the house, and I was like, okay, that was a big one," said Curtis Mayfield.

The magnitude was felt miles away from the original site.

"It was a loud pop, and then kind of a roll is what I heard and felt but it was pretty scary," McCarthy said.

The quake got the attention of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

"As soon as we got the data from the Oklahoma Geological Survey last night, within 30 minutes - probably a little less than that of the event, we told the operator to cease all operations," said Matt Skinner, OCC spokesman.

Since 2012, Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s Oil and Gas Conservation Division and the Oklahoma Geological Survey developed a seismicity protocol for oil and gas operators that were planning operations for the South Central Oklahoma Oil Province and the Sooner Trend Anadarko Basin Canadian and Kingfisher counties plays.

The seismicity protocol:

  1. All operators in the defined area will be required to have access to a seismic array that will give real-time seismicity readings.
  2. The minimum level at which the operator must take action has been lowered from a 2.5 magnitude to 2.0 ML.
  3. Some operators will have to pause operations for six hours at 2.5 ML. Under the previous protocol, the minimum level requiring a pause was 3.0 ML.

"One of the requirements in that guidance is mandatory shutdown at a 3.0 magnitude or greater," Skinner said.

However, nearby residents said Sunday's quake wasn't the only one produced by the future well site.

"Back on November 1, we actually had a 24-hour period we had five - you felt and heard the big booms, but they weren't near as big, I think 2.3 was the largest," Mayfield said.

Now, folks are glad to know something is getting done to reduce the seismic activity.

"I'm very concerned, and hopefully they'll keep that well shut down until they figure out what's going on," McCarthy said.

Roan Resources has informed the Oil and Gas Conservation Division of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission it has decided to permanently end all hydraulic fracturing operations at its well completion operation in the Bridge Creek area where earthquakes have recently occurred.