Drilling & Fracturing
Wastewater Injection Wells Rarely Responsible for Earthquakes
In recent years, North Texas has experienced an apparent increase of earthquakes – all low in magnitude – and scientists have been quick to blame underground wastewater injection activity as being responsible. However, Energy in Depth recently reported that the wastewater injection wells in North Texas are rarely the cause of earthquakes in the area – that even though there are thousands of injection wells throughout the Barnett Shale region, academics and U.S. Geological Survey researchers believe fewer than two-dozen could be sources of felt seismicity.
Energy in Depth continues: “According to the Texas Railroad Commission, the Barnett Shale encapsulates a 25-county region across North Texas. The Commission also has a searchable database of the state’s injection wells, which allows for county-by-county tabulations. The database shows that there are over 14,000 injection wells in the official Barnett Shale region. Using the information from published research on regional seismicity, including the number of well sites in close proximity to epicenters, only 0.1 percent of injection wells throughout the Barnett Shale region have been identified as a possible cause of earthquakes.”
Energy in Depth’s thorough analysis of these wastewater injection wells concludes: “The overwhelming majority of injection wells in North Texas have not been linked to felt seismic events, although additional scientific research is ongoing. With industry, environmental groups, scientists and policymakers continuing to study this issue, it is important that all interested parties focus on identifying solutions that will address concerns, and avoid overreaching measures that may do more harm than good.”