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The strong earthquake has caused trouble in the oil heartland of the United States

Yves came due to the earthquake, fracturing may become a self-limiting activity. You would think that polluting the aquifer is enough, and drinking water will be the first resource we encounter generally scarce. But drinking water is a health problem. The new coronavirus has shown that it is of secondary importance to protecting the economy, and earthquakes destroy property and infrastructure in this nasty way.

Author: Irina Slav, a writer at Oilprice.com, has more than ten years of writing experience in the oil and gas industry.Originally published on Oil price

  • Strongest earthquake in 10 years sparks debate in Texas
  • Texas Railroad Commission bans the injection of drilling wastewater into deep wells before the major earthquake
  • Closing the disposal well is not a permanent decision

A week ago, a 4.5-magnitude earthquake struck Texas in the Permian, the most prolific shale region in the country. A few days later, another earthquake shook the oil center of the United States. Seismic activity may eventually force drillers to restrict production.

According to the Midland Correspondent Telegraph at the time, the December 27 earthquake was the strongest earthquake in Texas in the past ten years. It happened at a depth of 4.3 miles near Stanton. It happened after a series of early earthquakes in December.

In mid-December, the US Geological Survey reported that 4 earthquakes occurred in the area near Midland within 24 hours. The magnitude of these earthquakes ranged from 2.9 to 3.7, which is not a lot, but this number is worrying, especially after more earthquakes were detected by the Economic Geology Bureau of the University of Texas at Austin earlier this year. After a stronger earthquake, regulators have stepped in.

Just before the major earthquake, the Texas Railroad Commission banned the injection of drilling wastewater into deep wells. After the major earthquake occurred, the committee sent inspectors to the site to conduct inspections because the earthquake occurred in an area that has already been investigated for sewage treatment in deep wells.

According to Reuters, if inspections result in the cessation of wastewater treatment in the area, this may result in the closure of about 18 treatment wells, which draw a total of 9,600 barrels of wastewater. If the drilling workers can’t treat the wastewater, then they can’t really drill.

Hydraulic fracturing or hydraulic fracturing leads to an increase in seismic activity and has always been one of the main weapons in the arsenal of anti-hydraulic fracturing activists. In fact, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the practice of splitting shale rock formations to extract the oil contained in them does lead to increased seismic activity. It’s just that it is not hydraulic fracturing itself. It is wastewater.

Fracturing requires a large amount of liquid. This liquid is called wastewater, but it is actually a mixture of water and chemicals and needs to be treated. Treatment is usually carried out in treatment wells, some of which are deep to hold more wastewater. It is these underground wastewater reservoirs that are related to the increase in seismic activity in certain oil regions.

For example, five years ago, Oklahoma attracted media attention due to the significant increase in seismic frequency since the beginning of the shale boom. The state is one of the largest oil producers in the United States, and until the real rise of hydraulic fracturing in 2009, its seismic activity was negligible. As of 2016, Oklahoma recorded an average of two earthquakes a day—this is the average level a year ago. So far, earthquakes have been equally frequent.

According to data from the Earthquake Tracker website, Oklahoma has experienced 10 earthquakes in the past 7 days, 68 earthquakes in the past 30 days, and 2,063 earthquakes in the past year. Of course, most of them are minor, but due to their increased frequency, they will still cause-and have caused-material damage. This problem even led to lawsuits seeking insurance against the effects of oil well wastewater treatment. Unfortunately for the plaintiff in this case, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled this month that there is no insurance for personal injury or property damage caused by seismic activity related to wastewater treatment.

Interestingly, insurance for this type of damage was not covered until a few years ago. With the increase in seismic activity, Oklahoma insurance companies are becoming more and more aware of the fact that increasing the premium of seismic insurance (in some cases by 200%) is not enough to avoid this seismic activity rate. Cause heavy losses. As a result, they began to remove this insurance from their service offerings and refused to file a claim for damage caused by the earthquake, but instead attributed it to the settlement of the house or just being too old.

The Permian was a larger oil producer than Oklahoma. It is the largest oil-producing region in the United States, and it is also the driving force of its output growth. As prices remain high, the output has increased significantly this year. However, unless producers can find alternatives to inject wastewater into deep wells, some of these production increases may never happen to avoid turning Texas into the second earthquake capital of the United States after Oklahoma.

Alternatives include trucking the wastewater away and treating it elsewhere, thus dispersing the burden of a large amount of water. If dumped into an underground well, it may lead to increased seismic activity. Another option is to recover water, which may be worth encouraging drillers to consider, because the amount of water used in shale well drilling will not decrease: according to the Groundwater Protection Commission, a horizontal well requires 45 million liters of water. water.

The U.S. oil and gas industry generates hundreds of millions of gallons of wastewater every year. The treatment of this water can and does lead to increased seismic activity in certain places. Closing the disposal well is not a permanent decision, especially for an industry that has just resumed growth.

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