BC Regulator: 4.6 quake in August 2015 triggered by fracking largest on record, OGC finds while Geological Survey of Canada experts get their frack quake harm facts mixed up

4.6 quake in August triggered by fracking largest on record, OGC finds by Jonny Wakefield, December 15, 2015, Alaska Highway News

Fluid injection during hydraulic fracturing caused a 4.6 earthquake north of Fort St. John this summer, the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission (OGC) has found.

The regulator released a report on the Aug. 17 quake Tuesday afternoon. Alaska Highway News received reports of shaking from the epicentre north of Wonowon to Charlie Lake, just outside Fort St. John.

“The event was the largest seismic event in B.C. caused by hydraulic fracturing investigated by the commission,” OGC spokesperson Alan Clay wrote in an email. “We can’t speak for (quakes in) other jurisdictions.”

The quake occurred on a well site where Progress Energy was fracking, the OGC said in an industry bulletin. The company completed the job using reduced pumping rates.

According to the commission, a 4.6 quake will cause “brief shaking felt at the surface,” but does not pose a risk to people or the environment. There were no reports of damage or injuries at the surface.

An earlier OGC report tied 231 seismic events in the Montney shale formation between August 2013 and November 2014 to oil and gas activity. Only 11 of those could be felt at the surface, and only two events in the Upper Montney were greater than 3.5 magnitude.

Progress Energy, a downstream subsidiary of Petronas, is among the most active drillers in B.C. The company drilled 203 wells in 2014—roughly 30 per cent of all wells drilled that year. The company is proving resources ahead of a final investment decision on Petronas’s Pacific NorthWest liquefied natural gas plant in Prince Rupert.

According to minutes of a community meeting in Pink Mountain, Progress’s activity contributes to roughly 2,800 jobs in the region. They plan to run between 10 and 15 rigs “consistently over the next few years.”

The commission says it stepped up monitoring of seismic events in recent years, and now requires any driller that causes an earthquake greater than 4.0 magnitude to stop operations.

The well did not leak, Clay said.

This summer, the OGC announced a 4.4 quake in August 2014 was also caused by Progress fracking operations. It was among the strongest fracking-induced quakes ever recorded at that time.

“The commission recognizes these events are a concern to the public and is working to ensure there is no risk to (the public), by implementing effective regulatory measures and mitigation procedures to reduce the frequency and magnitude of induced events,” Clay wrote. [Watch today’s Al Jazeera Fracklahoma clip]

Progress spokesperson Stacie Dley said the company has 17 seismic monitoring stations in the area.

“We will continue to be diligent and monitor our activities and adjust our operations as needed, such as decreasing fluid volume and pressure,” she wrote in an email. [Emphasis added]

Earthquake in Northern B.C. caused by fracking, says regulator, ‘This seismic event was caused by hydraulic fracturing,’ says regulator’s CEO by Betsy Trumpener, December 16, 2015, CBC News

British Columbia’s energy regulator has confirmed that a 4.6 magnitude earthquake in northeast B.C. in August of this year was caused by a nearby fracking operation.

“This seismic event was caused by hydraulic fracturing,” said Ken Paulson, CEO of the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission. Paulson said fewer than one per cent of fracking operations trigger seismic activity, and those quakes tend to be low magnitude and cause little damage. [Watch today’s Al Jazeera Fracklahoma clip]

Fracking halted temporarily after 4.6-magnitude earthquake near Fort St. John

The quake struck in August, about 110 kilometres northwest of Fort St. John, near a gas fracking site operated by Progress Energy.

Studies have linked fracking with earthquakes in the U.K., Oklahoma, and in B.C.

Largest fracking-related quake

The epicentre of the August quake was three kilometres from the Progress Energy fracking site. The operation shut temporarily immediately after the quake but soon restarted with continued monitoring.

Fracking operations have previously triggered small earthquakes in B.C. In the U.S., the disposal of frack waste has triggered larger quakes. But scientists said last summer that the 4.6 magnitude August quake may be the largest in the world caused by hydraulic fracturing.

No one was injured in the earthquake and there was no damage reported, but shaking could be felt for several [180] kilometres.

Experts say it is unlikely any fracking-related earthquakes in the future will cause damage. [How wide a legal liability stretch is that?]

“This level of earthquake, although sounds scary, but in terms of the actual seismic damage, magnitude 4.6 is very unlikely to cause significant damage,” said Honn Kao, a research scientist with the Geological Survey of Canada. [“Significant” is Kao’s escape hatch word. Is it “significant” if 10 homes are damaged, or 100?]

In a written statement, Progress Energy says it takes the incident very seriously, and is closely monitoring seismic activity near its frack sites. [If what Progress Energy says is true, wouldn’t they stop frac’ing?]

Meanwhile, B.C.’s energy regulator says it continues to closely monitor seismic activity and B.C.’s gas fields, and that it’s still business as usual. [Isn’t that what it always is to regulators in oil industry-controlled Canada? The Alberta regulator doesn’t even stop a company from frac’ing 100’s more fracs in a community’s fresh water zones after illegally fracing that community’s drinking water aquifers and contaminating them]

Balance between development and public safety

Kao says there are existing industry protocols in place regarding fracking-caused earthquakes.

“We’ve already had a meeting together — workshop together with everybody to discuss the best practice protocol that’s currently in place.” [And industry won right?]

He says the regulator’s acknowledgement that this 4.6 earthquake was caused by fracking means those protocols can now be updated to better protect the public. [Why bother with protocols?  The “experts” say frack quakes will never cause damage in the future! Kao needs to get his facts straight] 

“The key issue really is if we have all the necessary practice protocol in place so that we can set the level to a certain acceptable risk. [Your house or mine?] Then the community will feel much less afraid and therefore we can reach a very nice balanced approach between the development and the public safety. [Emphasis added]

Summer earthquake confirmed as largest caused by fracking in B.C.
by Mark Hume, December 16, 2015, The Globe and Mail

A 4.6 magnitude earthquake emanating from the gas fields in northeast British Columbia during the summer was caused by hydraulic fracturing and is the largest induced seismic event ever recorded in the province, the BC Oil and Gas Commission has confirmed.

It surpasses two 4.4 magnitude induced earthquakes in Alberta and one of similar magnitude in B.C. last year that have been attributed to gas drilling activities [and all specifically to fracing], adding to growing concerns about a relatively new and controversial extraction process commonly known as fracking.

The commission, which regulates the industry, confirmed in August that fracking caused last year’s 4.4 event. It said in a statement this week that it has now determined the 4.6 earthquake “was caused by fluid injection during hyrdraulic fracturing from an operator in the area.”

“More and bigger,” is how John Cassidy, a seismologist with the Geological Survey of Canada, describes the pattern of earthquakes triggered by gas extraction. “The overall pattern is that there’s an increase in the number of induced earthquakes – and there is an overall or average increase in the magnitude as well.”

The 4.6 earthquake was big enough that workers at the drill site reported their pick-up trucks shook and power poles swayed.

Dr. Cassidy said the growing number of earthquakes is not a public-safety concern because most are so small. But there is no doubt that fracking in the area has led to the increase.

A study by Dr. Cassidy and colleagues last year reported that in 2002-03, before fracking started in northeast B.C., 24 earthquakes were recorded. But in 2010-11, during the peak of fracking activity in the Horn River Basin, there were 189 earthquakes. That mirrors a pattern in the United States, where a dramatic increase in earthquakes has occurred in parallel with the spread of fracking since 2009. In Oklahoma, the number of earthquakes has increased to two a day from two or three a year since drilling increased there.

“What we’re finding is with the hydraulic fracturing, we are seeing an increase in the number of induced earthquakes. These are almost all tiny, tiny earthquakes, however. They are not associated with all wells, in fact, it’s a very small fraction of the wells that show induced earthquakes,” he said.

Ken Paulson, chief operating officer of the commission, said the company operating the drill rig that triggered the 4.6 earthquake, Progress Energy Canada Ltd., followed regulations and stopped operations as soon as the magnitude was known.

In B.C. and Alberta, any seismic event of magnitude 4.0 or higher results in a suspension of operation until a mitigation plan is developed.

“We allowed them to continue operations with a reduced pump rate, but if another event were to occur of 3.5 or greater, you have to shut in again and we’ll try something different,” Mr. Paulson said.

The pump rate is the amount of fluid injected underground to fracture rock. He said no other significant earthquakes occurred at the drill site once the pump rate was reduced.

“We take this incident very seriously, Stacie Dley, a spokesperson for Progress Energy, said in an e-mail. “We will continue to be diligent and monitor our activities and adjust our operations as needed, such as decreasing fluid volume and pressure.”

Markus Ermisch, a spokesman for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said that while research has established a link between fracking and earthquakes, it has also shown that gas extraction can be done safely within the regulatory framework. [Where are the studies and documented proof that gas extraction can be done safely?]

[Reality  check for CAPP:

2015: Netherlands court orders Shell & Exxon Mobil to pay 100,000 homeowners billions of dollars in quake damages ]

B.C. Earthquake Caused By Fracking, Investigation Reveals by The Canadian Press, December 15, 2015, Huffingtonpost.ca
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission has confirmed that fracking caused a 4.6-magnitude earthquake in August — the largest linked to the industry in the province to date.

The commission says an investigation has determined that the Aug. 17 quake in northeastern B.C. was caused by fluid injection from hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.

It says 4.6-magnitude seismic events typically cause brief shaking felt at the surface but aren’t a risk to public or environmental safety.

Progress Energy (TSX:PGE), which is owned by Malaysia’s Petronas and would supply gas to the planned Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal, paused its operations after the quake struck about 114 kilometres outside of Fort St. John.

The company held the previous record for the largest known fracking-caused quake in B.C. with a 4.4-magnitude tremor in 2014.

A statement from Progress Energy says it takes the incident very seriously and it has 17 monitoring stations in its operating area to accurately detect seismic activity.

INDUSTRY BULLETIN 2015-32August Seismic Event Determination by the BC Oil and Gas Commission, December 15, 2-15

The BC Oil and Gas Commission (Commission) has determined a Magnitude 4.6 seismic event on Aug. 17, 2015 in northeast B.C. was caused by fluid injection during hydraulic fracturing from an operator in the area. The investigation included a review of operational and seismological data, including all active oil and gas operations within the 10-kilometre radius of the epicentre determined by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). A Magnitude 4.6 event generally will cause brief shaking felt at the surface, but is not a risk to public or environmental safety.

The event occurred at 1:15 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. It was first reported to the Commission by NRCan at 1:50 p.m. The operator at a nearby wellsite immediately suspended operations and reported the event at 2:03 p.m. After collecting available data and discussing with the operator, a mitigation plan was approved by the Commission at 3:45 p.m. There were no reports of injury or damage at the surface. Felt reports indicate intensity was weak to light on the Modified Mercalli Scale.

Factors leading to this determination include:

• The absence of seismic events before and after hydraulic fracturing operations. Hydraulic fracture operations were ongoing from Aug. 11 to Sept. 2, 2015.

• The epicentre of the event was located to within one kilometre of the operator’s wellbore (A-99-J/94-B-16) using detailed data from a dense array and the Canadian National Seismograph Network.

• At the time of the event, the fracturing operation at this wellbore was being completed.

• Based on “felt” reports, ground motion appears to have been strongest in the vicinity of the this wellbore.

The Commission has taken a leadership role in the detection and mitigation of induced seismicity associated with unconventional gas development. Commission studies in 2012 and 2014, available online, led to enhancements such as increased seismic monitoring in northeast B.C. and stricter requirements around hydraulic fracturing. Stronger mitigation measures are now in place, through updates to the Drilling and Production Regulation, including the requirement that operations are shut down if seismic activity reaches Magnitude 4.0 or greater.

Should you have any questions regarding this Industry Bulletin, please contact:

Alan Clay Manager, Communications BC Oil and Gas Commission

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TODAY! 3.6 M earthquake recorded near Kamloops by Amy Judd, December 16, 2015, Global News, BC

Earthquakes Canada has confirmed there was an earthquake recorded near Kamloops early Wednesday morning.

The 3.6 magnitude earthquake was recorded at 1:48 a.m.

2015 12 16 Kamloops, BC, 3.6 M earthquake, map

Residents took to social media to say they felt light shaking.

Some say they were woken up by the quake.

Some say they were woken up by the quake.

2915 12 16 tweets Kamloops BC 3.6 M earthquake

Did you feel anything this morning?


Meanwhile, in Fracklahoma:

Earthquake State, Fault Lines travels to Oklahoma to find out what, or who, is to blame for the state’s daily earthquakes by Al Jazeera, December 16, 2015

Earthquakes have become a daily occurrence in Oklahoma, which has replaced California as the most seismically active part of the United States.

For Oklahomans, long hardened to such natural disasters as tornadoes, earthquakes are a new and startling development.

Scientific evidence that Oklahoma’s earthquakes are man-made, however, has been met by a climate of denial by politicians and industrialists.

The underground disposal of waste water from oil and gas drilling has been cited as the chief culprit for the dramatic increase in state seismic activity….


Matt Skinner, Oklahoma Corporation Commission – “When we call up OGS (Oklahoma Geological Survey), and they can’t get their computers to come up, that’s a problem.”

Austin Holland, Oklahoma Geological Survey – “Last year we recorded, or were actually able to locate more than 5000 earthquakes and we probably had another 10,000 that our systems have identified, that we didn’t have a chance to look at.”

Reporter – “… In August, Austin Holland resigned as head seismologist at the Oklahoma Geological Survey, we were with him on his last day. … Holland leaves behind a state in which the earthquake rate continues to rise. Not long after he announced his departure, his colleague, Amber Lee Darold, did the same. Now Oklahoma, the most seismically active state in the continental US, is left without a state seismologist.”

[Refer also to:

2015 08 18: NE BC: Monday’s 4.5 Magnitude frac quake, felt from Pink Mountain to Fort St. John (180 km), ‘likely’ caused by Progress Energy, OGC confirms

2015 03 12: Jack Shawn Eyles, 28, from Kelowna, dies fracking in NE BC for Calfrac (Nitrogen Pumping Division) on Progress Energy Canada Ltd. Site: “Not an explosion as we usually think, but an explosive or sudden release of extremely high pressure

Former Oklahoma state seismologist Austin Holland confirmed industry pressure and conflicts of interest by state officials handling swarms of frac waste quakes shaking & damaging the state | Ernst v. EnCana Corporation

Companies asking Oklahoma judge to throw out Prague resident Sandra Ladra’s frack waste quake lawsuit ]

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