Oklahoma Corporation Commission asks disposal well operators to reduce volumes

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s Oil & Gas Conservation Division (OGCD) asked operators of 27 oil and natural gas wastewater disposal wells to reduce disposal volumes following recent earthquakes in the Fairview area.

The disposal wells span an area measuring 36 miles by 20 miles. Plans call for certain disposal well operators to reduce disposal volumes by 54,859 b/d, or about 18%.

OGCD Director Tim Baker said, “The data available indicates that a much larger approach to the earthquakes in that entire part of northwestern Oklahoma is needed, and we have been working on such a plan.” He called the plan announced Jan. 13 “part of this ongoing process.”

Baker also noted a concern exists about a higher potential risk of earthquakes resulting from numerous disposal wells stopping operation at once because of weather-related power failures. The concern is that all the disposal wells resume full operation at about the same time when power is restored.

Disposal well operators in the Fairview area were advised to gradually restore operations in case of a sudden shutdown due to power failures.

The latest action marks a continuation of OGCD’s strategy of monitoring disposal well operations in the deep Arbuckle formation. Oklahoma had about 880 earthquakes greater than magnitude 3.0 in 2015, the Oklahoma Geological Survey said. That compares with 585 recorded for that magnitude range in 2014.

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