The Oklahoma Corporation Commission on Thursday approved new rules that could help determine whether oil and natural gas operations are connected to the state’s earthquake swarm.
The commissioners unanimously approved rules requiring water injection well operators throughout the state to collect daily information on injection volume and pressure. The operators must be able to provide the information if the commission asks for it.
Previously, operators were required to collect the data monthly and report it annually, although the commissioners have said many operators have collected data more often than required and have provided it when needed.
The rules are designed in part to provide more information more quickly after an earthquake, providing scientists more data to help them determine whether nearby injection wells could have contributed to a quake.
“These rules were a big part of a collaboration effort with the industry, the (Oklahoma) Geological Survey and the commission,” Commissioner Dana Murphy said. “I think it’s important to target the areas where maybe the higher risks are and focus on that first and see what can be done with that data.”
The Oklahoma Geological Survey has been studying whether the state’s swarm of quakes over the past few years is connected with water injection wells.
One report co-authored by a former University of Oklahoma professor and a U.S. Geological Survey researcher connected the state record 5.7 magnitude quake in 2011 to an injection well near Luther, but the Oklahoma Geological survey has said the incident appears “consistent with a natural earthquake.”
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