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Swarm of more than two dozen earthquakes halts Kingfisher oil operation

KINGFISHER, Okla. - A swarm of earthquakes hit Kingfisher County in numbers officials haven't seen in years.

More than two dozen quakes were tracked by the Oklahoma Geological Survey west of Kingfisher between Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

Many in the area didn't feel them, but there were a couple that had the Oklahoma Corporation Commission concerned.

"The whole idea is to reduce the chance of a felt earthquake," said Corporation Commission spokesperson Matt Skinner.

The first was a magnitude 3.2 located within five kilometers of a well site in the middle of a well completion operation, owned by Encana.

"It just, boom, 3.2," Skinner said. "You're going to feel that, and so they immediately shut down for 12 hours."

A few hours later, a 3.9 quake hit nearby. Encana made the decision to cease operations indefinitely.

"If they see activity, of course, they can take action at an earlier stage," Skinner said, "but they have to take action at a 2 in magnitude."

In a statement, a spokesperson for Encana said in a statement:

"Encana immediately shut down operations on our wellsite after the occurrence of the first seismic event yesterday evening. The wellsite will be shut down until we’ve had a chance to do a thorough technical review. We have had significant experience with this type of event, and we have a plan in place and will work with the OCC on its safe implementation. The operating procedures that we follow, which are required by the OCC, help us manage the occurrence and magnitude of induced seismicity. In addition, these procedures help us ensure the safety of our employees onsite and also those in the surrounding community. "

If the company wants to continue operations on that site, they'll have to first have technical talks with the OCC to get the go-ahead.

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