ENID, Okla. — Oklahoma Corporation Commission officials are calling the regulatory agency's most recent response to seismic activity the "largest volume reduction plan yet" for wastewater disposal wells in western Oklahoma.
The plan involves 5,281 square miles, and 245 disposal wells injecting into the Arbuckle formation, according to an OCC media advisory.
“We have taken a number of actions in the Medford, Fairview and Cherokee areas,” OCC Oil and Gas Conservation Division Director Tim Baker said. “However, there is agreement among researchers, including our partners at the Oklahoma Geological Survey, that the data clearly underscored the need for a larger, regional response. That is why, even as we took actions in various parts of the region in response to specific earthquake events, we were already working on a larger plan.”
Along with a 191,000 barrel — a barrel is 42 gallons — a day cut recently implemented in Fairview, volume will be cut by more than half a million barrels a day with the latest measure, according to the advisory.
Baker said the plan includes areas not experiencing major earthquakes along with areas of continued seismicity.
“The wells covered in this plan include those along the western area of the plan’s boundaries where there has not yet been major earthquake activity,” he said. “This plan is aimed not only at taking further action in response to past activity, but also to get out ahead of it and hopefully prevent new areas from being involved.”
Seismic activity demands a regional response, Baker said.
The plan will be implemented in four stages, over two months, as researchers have cautioned against sudden pressure changes, the advisory states.
An OCC official said Saturday, following a U.S. Geological Survey report of a magnitude 5.1 earthquake northwest of Fairview, the plan would be released Tuesday.
"We've been working on this for some time, before the large-scale quakes in Fairview, we've been working on this plan," OCC spokesman Matt Skinner said then.
The OCC did not really start taking action in the northwestern area of seismic activity until late last year, Oklahoma Geological Survey Director Jeremy Boak said.
"The request to reduce injection in response to the earlier Fairview area earthquakes has probably not taken full effect," he said. "This was the area I was most concerned about with respect to a larger earthquake, and it had been more than a month since the last one."