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Oklahoma regulators consider new rules for wastewater disposal wells

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission is considering new rules for operators of wastewater disposal wells.
BY JAY F. MARKS Published: January 17, 2014

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission is considering new rules that would require wastewater disposal well operators to provide regulators with more information.

One of the proposed rules would require operators to record injection volume and well pressure on a daily basis.

“A great many operators do this now,” commission spokesman Matt Skinner said. “For many operators, this is not any change.”

Another proposal would require mechanical integrity tests on all disposal or injection wells within six months of completion.

Skinner said the proposals arise from ongoing discussions about best practices for oil and natural gas exploration in Oklahoma.

“The rule-making process is, in a sense, always ongoing,” he said, due to new technology and techniques being applied by the industry. “We work carefully with all the stakeholders.”

Michael Teague, Oklahoma's energy and environment secretary, said the expertise shared by operators will help regulators craft good rules that are not too onerous.

“We certainly appreciate them being involved,” he said.

Skinner said the proposed rules would require additional record-keeping by disposal well operators in the Arbuckle formation, which lies deep below much of the state.

The additional data could help researchers looking at possible links between disposal wells and a spate of earthquakes in Oklahoma. Nearly 4,500 disposal wells were operational in the state in 2012.

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