Update: 'intake' 2.4 million barrels

Matt Skinner, Oklahoma Corporation Commission spokesman. (Billy Hefton / Enid News & Eagle)

Billy Hefton / Enid News & Eagle

An official with Oklahoma Corporation Commission said Oklahoma received more than 2.4 million barrels of injection wastewater from other states in 2015.

The Enid News & Eagle reported Sunday that Oklahoma received more than 500,000 barrels of wastewater in the third quarter of 2015 based on reports from OCC.

OCC spokesman Matt Skinner said the reports were misread by OCC staff.

According to a recent media advisory from Oklahoma Corporation Commission, one barrel equals 42 gallons. Oklahoma intakes more than 100 million gallons of water per year from other states.

Why can't Oklahoma stop taking disposal wastewater from other areas?

"There was a case of one state trying to stop the importation of garbage from another state into their state," Skinner said. "The federal courts put an end to their objection saying it was a violation of interstate commerce and they had to take the garbage. That was the opinion that came from our general counsel at the time — that not allowing the water was a violation of interstate commerce."

Skinner said Oklahoma still is an intake state.

"Obviously, we took in 2 million barrels, but when you compare it to 1.5 billion, it's a small percentage of the total," he said.

Secretary of Energy and Environment Michael Teague said the state disposed of 1.5 billion barrels of water in 2015. Skinner said that number is just an estimate. 

"The total disposed (for the state) is an estimate of 1.5 billion, but we won't know until all the reports are in from 2015," Skinner said. "Outside of an earthquake area, non-Arbuckle wells don't have to report every week. They only have to report annually or when we want it, whichever is first, so it will be awhile until we have an exact number."

OCC has two full-time employees dedicated to seismicity, Skinner said. One worker was transferred from the Underground Injection Control program and the other position was created and funded through a grant from Gov. Mary Fallin, Skinner said.

"Obviously, that's not many," Skinner said. "The reports that are key to the seismicity effort, which are weekly volumes from the disposal wells in the 9,000 square mile earthquake area, then we have, as far as I know, we have one person responsible for updating those."

House Speaker Jeffrey Hickman, R-Fairview, said Monday at Enid Rotary Club that OCC needs more resources

"We have to get the Corporation Commission the resources to contract with a data firm to take all this information from saltwater disposal wells in an electronic format," he said.

Skinner said reports are submitted to the office in all forms — fax, handwritten, emailed and so forth.

"Given the amount of earthquakes, we need much faster real-time data," he said. "That has been a problem — getting our hands around all the data has been a problem."

Hickman said he was amazed to learn about the lack of technology at OCC. 

"When you have an earthquake and they (the commission) wants to know what is happening, they (OCC) has to put staff in from other areas to help pull files on the (injection) wells," he said. "Hopefully, within a day or two the commissioners have the data they need to make a decision. OCC should have technology where they can gather items at the touch, or almost touch, of a computer."

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