Recent earthquakes near Cushing, Oklahoma have caused a seismic shift in the state’s response to induced quakes in that state. The reason – Cushing is a major hub in the U.S. for storage and shipments of crude. Below is a snapshot of some of the giant storage tanks just outside the town (click to enlarge):
Some of these tanks are large enough to hold a Boeing 747. Cushing’s storage can hold more than 10 million barrels of oil; it is the largest commercial storage depot in the U.S.
A flurry of quakes have recently hit near Cushing. On October 10, a quake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale hit about three miles from the town. Scientists have linked increased seismic activity in Oklahoma to increased waste water injection. 3.3 billion barrels of waste water were injected under Oklahoma from 2011 through 2013.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates oil and gas in the state, was originally skeptical of any connection between waste water injection wells and induced quakes. But Oklahoma has now become the most seismically active state in the U.S., surpassing California, and state regulators have begun to take action.
Last month the OCC ordered injection wells within three miles of Cushing to shut down and wells within six miles to reduce their volume injected by 25 percent. And it has put all operators of injection wells within ten miles of Cushing on notice that they may be next.
Recent Bloomberg article on Oklahoma quakes here.
The U.S. Geological Survey recently issued a report concluding that the rise in quakes in Oklahoma is likely the result of water injection. Article here.
Recent quakes in Karnes and Atascosa Counties in Texas, article here. The Texas Railroad Commission recently held hearings on whether two injection wells in North Texas were the cause of quakes in the Barnett Shale.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court recently reinstated a suit by Jennifer Lin Cooper against waste injection companies for personal injuries she says were caused by induced earthquakes.