An oil company drilling in Logan County has been asked to monitor a disposal well more closely after concerns it could affect a nearby earthquake fault line.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission voted 2-0 Thursday to approve a saltwater disposal well for Slawson Exploration Co. Inc. in northwestern Logan County, about 11 miles north of Crescent.
Commissioner Dana Murphy abstained from the vote, saying she wanted to wait until more seismic data was available.
Four earthquakes in the area were recorded in May, with the closest being a 2.2-magnitude quake on May 22. Several maps included with Slawson’s application show about 40 earthquakes from January to the end of April within several miles of the well. The company said it believes those earthquakes are naturally occurring.
Murphy said the commission regulates injection wells to protect fresh water. Monitoring for seismic activity is a new concern for regulators, she said.
“Now, with the scenario changing, we’ve had to look at different things,” Murphy said.
John O’Dowd, area engineer for Slawson, said the company has spent about $8 million on the disposal well and four horizontal wells that are awaiting completion. Slawson wants to inject up to 15,000 barrels of salt water per day into the disposal well, which will have a maximum depth of about 8,200 feet.
Slawson had a permit to drill a well, but later came to the commission for a permit to make it a disposal well. Murphy called that a risky business decision.
“It seems like it would be important for the company to get to know what the status or situation is ahead of them spending the money to actually drill the well,” Murphy said.
O’Dowd said the company has re-evaluated how it does its disposal permit process and in the future will pursue a disposal permit before it drills a well for that purpose.
Last fall, the commission began implementing a “traffic light” system to help determine whether a disposal well should be permitted in areas with increased earthquake activity.
“This looks to me like it’s a yellow; it’s not a red,” Commissioner Patrice Douglas said. “Staff didn’t see any reason — public safety or otherwise — to say we won’t do this. We’ve put additional safeguards in the order.”
Slawson agreed to record daily pressure and volume rates on the disposal well. It also will run a bottom-hole pressure test prior to injection and every 60 days for up to six months.
Commissioner Bob Anthony said the additional requirements on the permit for Slawson’s disposal well shows the commission is paying attention to oil and gas development in areas of earthquake activity.
“There’s a lot of thinking and soul-searching involved in this matter,” Anthony said. “We are aware in Oklahoma of the increased seismic activity, not only in this county but in other places. We take that very seriously.”
State Reps. Jason Murphey and Lewis Moore plan to host a town hall meeting in June with Corporation Commission staff and representatives of the Oklahoma Geological Survey about recent seismic activity in their districts, which include parts of Oklahoma and Logan counties. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. June 26 at Waterloo Road Baptist Church, 3100 E Waterloo Road in Edmond.
There’s a lot of thinking and soul-searching involved in this matter. We are aware in Oklahoma of the increased seismic activity, not only in this county but in other places. We take that very seriously.”
Commissioner Bob Anthony,