Texas was forced to act after being shaken by a hydraulic fracturing earthquake

An oil drilling rig in the Permian basin of Odessa, Texas, April 2020.

“You’re used to it. The walls are shaking,” says Sam, a resident of Midland, a town in western Texas. There, hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas, known as “fracturing,” is causing more and more earthquakes.

“Another tremor occurs after a second, just as a truck passes nearby,” said a 44-year-old who didn’t want to reveal his surname.

Reflecting his words, three earthquakes shook the ground in just one day, February 4.

According to market information company Sourcenergy, this region of the Permian basin, where 40% of US oil and 15% of gas are extracted, has three magnitudes in 2019, 51 in 2020, and nine earthquakes in over 176 in 2021. Has occurred.

The cause of the earthquake is not hydraulic fracturing, but drainage into the well. The Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil activity, Water treatment..

“The fox that protects the poultry house”

Drilling companies need to deal with the large amount of water generated during hydraulic fracturing. Water makes up about 80% of the fluid pumped from the ground.

Nearly 4,000 active wells have been specially drilled to collect wastewater from the Permian basin.

“As more and more water is pumped to the ground, these spaces fill up,” said Joshua Adler, CEO of Sourcenergy, which helps oil companies improve water management.

“In some of these spaces there are these cracks and fault lines. You are pushing it harder and harder, and maybe you hit that fault line, and maybe it slides it and it earthquake.. “

Since 2012, the Permian basin has quintupled daily oil production, resulting in more water injection into wells.

“In Oklahoma, they basically stumbled for years and denied that there was a problem,” Adler said when the earthquakes increased in the 2010s.

In Texas, he said, as soon as the number of earthquakes increased, the Railroad Commission began investigating the issue. “They didn’t wait until it became a big problem.”

Between September and January, we defined three geographic areas at risk.

In mid-December, the most populous Gardendale, where the cities of Midland and Odessa are located, ordered the suspension of deep injection into seven wells.

After four more earthquakes of magnitude between 3.1 and 3.7, it expanded the measurement to an additional 26 wells.

Regulators are waiting for industry proposals in two other areas identified, Stanton and Northern Culverson Reeves.

However, Neta Line, 72, who lives near Northern Culberson Reeves, believes that “it’s like asking a fox to protect a chicken coop.”

The locals broke up

Last week, she asked the Railroad Commission again to hear, following a new request to drill a water treatment well in her area, as she has been doing since 2016.

She fears that the quake could affect her home in Toyahvale’s Balmorhea Natural Park, one of the largest natural spring pools in the world.

The Texas Parks Agency refused to answer AFP’s question, but spokesman Stephanie Salinas Garcia acknowledged “concerns that an earthquake could affect the spring system.”

“This is a small community. People don’t want to cause problems and don’t want to express their concerns,” said Line, who owns a diving shop near the Balmorea Natural Pool.

Suspension of water injection is set to impose a large cost on the oil company that must be transported water Offsite via pipeline, or even trucks.

Sam, who lives in Midland, says the local reaction to the quake is divided.

“Older people complain a little about earthquakes, but young people never! Three-quarters live on oil.

“Even when it smells of hydrogen sulfide released from a well, they say it smells of money.”

The natural gas company asked to show that it wasn’t causing a Texas earthquake

© 2022 AFP

Quote: Shaken by hydraulic fracturing, Texas was forced to act (February 9, 2022) to 2022 Obtained on February 9

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Texas was forced to act after being shaken by a hydraulic fracturing earthquake

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