Fracking caused many low-level earthquakes in B.C., probe finds

Fracking caused many low-level earthquakes in B.C., probe finds by Michael Babad, September 6, 2012, The Globe and Mail
Fracking caused B.C. quakes: report
The controversial drilling practice known as fracking has caused scores of low-level earthquakes in British Columbia’s Horn River Basin, the region rich in shale gas, a new report finds. These caused no damage or injuries, and only one was felt on the surface near pre-existing faults. Still, a recent probe into the quakes could well provide ammunition to those opposed to this method of drilling for natural gas. Fracking, also known in the industry as fracing, is hydraulic fracturing, using water, sand and chemicals or gases to burst underground rock formations, pushing natural gas to the surface. The practice has been a boon to the energy sector. It is highly controversial, and was linked to two minor earthquakes in Britain last year.

Now, a report released recently by the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission sheds light on the huge shale gas deposits in northeastern B.C. Quakes recorded by Natural Resources Canada ranged from 2.2 to 3.8 on the Richter scale, below the 4 mark and thus deemed minor. “The investigation has concluded that the events observed within remote and isolated areas of the Horn River Basin between 2009 and 2011 were caused by fluid injection during hydraulic fracturing in proximity to pre-existing faults,” the commission said in its report. It began its probe after learning of several “low level seismic events” recorded by Natural Resources Canada near the development areas. … No such activity was recorded in the region before 2009, the report noted. The commission makes several recommendations, among them reviewing data to identify pre-existing falls.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said in a statement that it supported the investigation and is working on new guidelines. “Seismicity associated with industrial activities is of concern to the public,” CAPP president Dave Collyer said. “Natural gas companies played a key role in providing the OGC with data to complete this study, we fully support its conclusions and we are in the process of finalizing operator guidelines and increasing financial support for more seismic monitoring in the region,” he said in a statement. [Emphasis added]

[Refer also to: Investigation of Observed Seismicity in the Horn River Basin   Seismicity in the Oil Field

Drilling method can be extended throughout UK, say experts, even though it has caused two earthquakes ]

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