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Oklahoma shuts down wastewater disposal wells after recent earthquake

For years, the oil and gas industry has been blamed for the increase in seismic activity in various areas of the United States. Previous posts on this blog have tracked the allegations that hydraulic fracturing operations have contributed to seismic activity. A recent earthquake over the weekend has again sparked a debate regarding the alleged … Continue reading

Sierra Club files earthquake lawsuit and Oklahoma regulators issue disposal injection reduction plan

Sierra Club makes induced seismicity claims against energy companies in federal lawsuit under Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Days after a 5.1 magnitude quake shook Oklahoma on February 13, 2016, a federal suit claiming induced seismicity was filed. Sierra Club v. Chesapeake Operating LLC, et al., No. CIV-16-134-F, (W.D. Okla. filed Feb. 16, 2016). The suit, … Continue reading

State funding triggers TexNet Seismic Monitoring Program

The TexNet Seismic Monitoring Program, under the auspices of the University of Texas, is getting going, fueled by $4.5 million allocated by the Texas Legislature, with two new hires and seismographic equipment soon to be deployed.  The new project manager for TexNet is Alex Savvaidis, who operated a similar program in Greece.  Peter Hennings, a former ConocoPhillips structural geologist, will … Continue reading

Oklahoma residents sue 12 energy companies over quakes

On January 11, 2015 Oklahoma residents from Edmond and Oklahoma City filed suit against twelve energy companies, alleging that the defendants caused or contributed to seismic activity, though no scientific evidence is cited. Felts, et al. v. Devon Energy, et al., No. CJ-2016-137 (Okla. Cnty. Dist. Ct. filed Jan. 11, 2016).  Plaintiffs assert negligence and strict … Continue reading

Quakes in Oklahoma and Canada highlight changing legal parameters for operators

Edmond, Oklahoma experienced a 4.3 magnitude quake December 29 amid a swarm of quakes the state experienced that day.  Chimneys and contents of shelves purportedly tumbled to the ground, and 4,400 individuals lost electricity.  The Oklahoma Corporation Commission continues to develop a response to the complex phenomenon, noting January 1 that “the initial review of … Continue reading

Earthquakes tracked by state authorities and public with new tech

Seismic activity last week near Dallas grabbed attention in the Twittersphere, despite its low magnitude, reflecting the increasing trend of earthquake monitoring through social media and new technologies.  The USGS, which tracks ground shaking through user-generated reports on its “Did You Feel It?” site, posted one of the seismic events last week within a mere … Continue reading

Seismic activity in Oklahoma results in new injection volume plans for wells near Crescent and Cherokee

On Friday, November 20, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission issued volume reduction plans for areas near Crescent and Cherokee that experienced seismic activity last week.  These plans are the latest in a series of similar measures taken by the state to control injection volumes of produced water and wastewater in various areas. The Crescent area plan … Continue reading

Wall Street Journal assesses induced seismicity liability debate

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal added to the debate over induced seismicity with an online opinion piece entitled, “Should Oil Firms Be Held Liable in Earthquake Lawsuits?” Law professor Blake Watson at the University of Dayton took the position that oil and gas companies should be held strictly liable if underground fluid injection causes … Continue reading

Texas railroad commission rejects claims that injection wells cause seismic activity

Earlier this year, the Texas Railroad Commission (Commission) required that XTO Energy Inc. (XTO) and EnerVest Operating LLC (EnerVest) show cause as to why the two companies should be permitted to continue their drilling operations in the Barnett Shale. The Commission’s request was triggered by a Southern Methodist University study that suggested that the injection … Continue reading

Sierra Club threatens to sue oil companies over frackquakes

The Sierra Club is threatening to sue four oil companies over allegations that their wastewater disposal operations caused hundreds of earthquakes in Oklahoma. In their notice of intent to sue, published on November 2, the Sierra Club claims that the oil companies are violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, a federal law that governs … Continue reading

USGS says frackquakes a “red herring”

U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Susan Hough recently commented that the link between fracking and earthquakes is “a red herring.”  The statement was issued in conjunction with the release of a study by the USGS finding that deep underground injection to dispose of wastewater from oil and gas operations has had a long and vaunted history … Continue reading

Resolution in Denton’s hydraulic fracturing litigation ban after H.B. 40

The Denton County District Court granted an order filed by the Texas Oil and Gas Association (TxOGA), dismissing all claims filed against the city of Denton on Sept. 4, 2015, largely in light of the approval of what is known as the “Denton fracking bill,” H.B. 40. The district judge considered the parties agreed motion to dismiss and found … Continue reading

Texas Railroad Commission clears another well of inducing earthquakes

In a proposal for decision issued September 10, the Texas Railroad Commission concluded that the Briar Lease Well No. 1 was constructed properly and that “the evidence on the record” did not support a finding that the well triggered earthquakes. The order comes nearly five months after the Texas Railroad Commission ordered the operator of … Continue reading

Texas Railroad Commission Announces Standard of Proof for Induced Seismicity

On August 31, the Hearings Division of the Texas Railroad Commission issued a Proposal for Decision involving the West Lake SWD Well No. 1.  The order comes four months after the Commission filed notice on April 24 that it would conduct a hearing to consider whether operation of the well in the Barnett Shale field is … Continue reading

Oklahoma Corporation Commission issues induced seismicity guidance for well operators

On July 17 the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s Oil and Gas Conservation Division announced it is taking additional steps in response to induced seismicity concerns, aided by a $200,000 grant from the Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment.  This new OGCD directive expands the total size of the areas covered and applies to 211 additional disposal wells. … Continue reading

Berkeley Lab researchers quell frackquake fears, FEMA discusses induced seismicity

On July 9 the California Council on Science and Technology in collaboration with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, released an expanded independent scientific report on hydraulic fracturing discussing anthropogenic earthquakes. Berkeley Lab researchers found “no recorded cases of induced seismicity” in California. The report concludes that to date there have been no known seismic events linked … Continue reading

Induced seismicity developments: Earthquake lawsuit jurisdiction, new research, and seismic monitoring

This June earthquakes captured the attention of courts, researchers, and regulators in key oil and gas producing states. Oklahoma’s highest court gave the green light to a lawsuit blaming injection wells for a plaintiff’s home damage and personal injuries suffered during an earthquake. Kentucky is increasing seismic monitoring within the state, and Texas oil and … Continue reading

Texas Railroad Commission Chair weighs in on induced seismicity

Texas Railroad Commission Chairwoman Christ Craddick criticized finger-pointing at the oil and gas industry for recent Texas tremors in a May 15 interview, noting that the cause of recent seismic events is still not known “for sure.” Chairwoman Craddick commented, “The political rush to judgment and the press rush to judgment that every earthquake’s being … Continue reading

Earthquake risks prompt evaluation of wastewater injection

Earthquake risks recently prompted lawmakers and regulators in several oil and gas producing states to evaluate wastewater injection purportedly linked to seismic activity. Key developments include: 4/21: SMU faculty publish geophysical report blaming two wells for Azle, Texas quakes 4/23: US Geological Survey issues report claiming seismic events in 8 states were induced 4/23: Oklahoma … Continue reading

Fracking bill approved by Texas Senate committee

On Thursday, April 30th, the Texas Senate Natural Resources & Economic Development Committee (Committee) voted to approve H.B. 40. As discussed in a previous post, H.B. 40 is a response to the fracking ban enacted by the city of Denton, Texas during the latter part of last year. The Committee voted unanimously in favor of … Continue reading

State bill prohibiting local fracking bans one step closer to enactment

After Denton, Texas adopted a ban against hydraulic fracturing, many commentators predicted that the anti-fracking measure would be short-lived. While the lawsuits challenging the local fracking ban are still in the early stages, the Texas Legislature is quickly taking steps to block local fracking bans. On Friday, the Texas House of Representatives passed H.B. 40—one … Continue reading

Texas house committee on energy resources approves bill to preempt local fracking bans

Denton, Texas garnered national attention when it enacted a local measure banning hydraulic fracturing within the city limits. At the time, many spectators suggested that the measure would be short-lived because of legal challenges in the court system and potential legislation from the Texas Legislature. Soon after the enactment of the ban, several members of … Continue reading

Texas Legislature considers incentives for use of alternative fracking fluids

The Texas Legislature is currently considering several bills related to hydraulic fracturing and the oil and gas industry in general. Last Friday, March 13th, two additional bills were proposed in the Texas Legislature that would incentivize the use of alternative fracking fluids. The bills—H.B. 4035 and H.B. 4021—were introduced by Representative Drew Darby and Representative … Continue reading

Texas Legislature considers bills to restrict local regulation of oil and gas activities

Soon after Denton, Texas enacted its hydraulic fracturing ban, many commentators suggested that the Texas Legislature may enact legislation targeted at restricting the ability of local governments to adopt anti-fracking measures. It appears that this prediction was accurate. On March 13th, members of the Texas Legislature introduced two bills aimed at limiting the authority of … Continue reading
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