Treating the US oil industry’s dark water: As earthquakes increase, billions needed to switch course by Rystad Energy, June 10, 2021
A worrying Rystad Energy analysis of seismic activity in the US’ key oil producing regions reveals that the number of noticeable earthquakes has been increasing year after year since 2017. Tremors of above the magnitude of 2 on the Richter scale quadrupled in 2020 and are on track to increase even further in frequency in 2021 if oil and gas activity sticks to its current drilling methods at the same pace.
Rystad Energy’s research, which examined data from Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico Why leave out Alberta and BC Canada’s frac quake fields?, showed that earthquakes of above the given magnitude accumulated to a count of 242 in 2017, growing to 491 in 2018, 686 in 2019 and 938 in 2020. Around 570 such tremors have been recorded through the first five months of 2021, meaning we may see a new record this year if the trend continues.
The trend appears to be moving not only to more frequent, but also larger events.
So far this year, there have already been 11 individual seismic events of magnitude 3.5 or greater, which can certainly be felt…, a worrying sign compared to just six such events annually in 2018 and 2019, and 14 events in 2020.
The biggest oil and gas industry contributor to seismic activity is by far the saltwater disposal through underground injection, and the volume of disposed water climbed sharply from 2011 through 2019, before tapering off a little in 2020 due to lower activity caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Caused by the pandemic, or nervous disgusted investors and banks the industry after losing billions?
While the US onshore sector’s water disposal in 2011 was limited to 7.7 billion barrels, the volumes quickly built up over the next years to around 10 billion barrels between 2014 and 2017. In 2018 disposed volumes reached 11.5 billion barrels and in 2019 about 12.4 billion barrels, before retreating to 11.3 billion barrels in 2020.
“To maintain water disposal at 2020 levels and offset its coming growth, the amount of water that is treated and recycled must instead grow going forward and the cost of doing that could accumulate to above $1 billion annually for oil and gas producers. The costs can vary per region, but the Permian Basin has very competitive economics compared to other areas,” says Ryan Hassler, shale analyst at Rystad Energy.
To offset the yearly growth of disposed water that Rystad Energy is forecasting due to the coming boom in the US shale industry, the volumes of treated water must increase from the 1.5 billion barrels seen in 2020 to 1.7 billion barrels in 2021 and 2022, 1.8 billion barrels in 2023 and then rise even further from 2024 onwards as the needs to dispose water will again exceed 12 billion barrels due to increased activity.
“Earthquakes are not the only environmental issue caused by water disposal. Fresh water sourcing in arid regions of West Texas and New Mexico threaten the water supply of local communities and essential agriculture activities, while environmental concerns surrounding the chemical composition of produced water serve only to fan the flames of public antipathy,” adds Hassler.
While ESG initiatives are positive, the real driver to increase water recycling adoption is cost. Midstream companies continue to build out pipeline infrastructure to allow operators cheaper access to produced water, while also expanding existing recycling facilities or building new ones.
Rystad Energy estimates that by the end of 2022, the Permian Basin – including both the Delaware and Midland sub-basins – could but won’t. Companies are too greedy be able to meet between 40% and 43% of frac water demand from recycled produced water. To meet this target, additional investment from the midstream space will be required to drive costs down further.
There are many ideas in relation to produced water that may help alleviate the growing pains of the recycling infrastructure and the disposal seismic problem. Recently, a legislation change in Texas allowed the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to take responsibility for the permitting of produced water surface discharge for beneficial reuse.
In theory, the change in regulatory bodies (the TCEQ took over from the Environmental Protection Agency) should allow for a more streamlined “streamlined” is code for deregulated free-for-all toxic waste dumping permitting process, enabling operators to discharge produced water volumes into surface water to be beneficially much oilpatch waste water is radioactive and toxic, and is not beneficial to any human or other species; it’s likely too dangerous and explosive to even use in fire fighting reused for agriculture or wildlife. However, this does not appear to be the case, as the TCEQ has yet to administer a single permit since taking over responsibilities. Good. They best never hand out any.
Currently, only Wyoming takes advantage of surface water discharge for beneficial reuse under the West of the 98th Meridian law, providing an additional market for water reuse. California, on the other hand, uses produced water for crop irrigation, which, under the Clean Water Act, does not require an NPDES (EPA) permit if not discharging to surface water such as instances of use in irrigation.
So, while there are several avenues in which produced water can be reused from an agriculture, irrigation or wildlife standpoint, the fact is that Texas – with its massive produced water volumes – is currently taking advantage of none. …
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Refer also to:
Largest inland spill in history: U.S. Dept Justice files criminal and civil charges against Summit Midstream Partners LLC, $36Million in fines for discharging (dumping?) 111,284,642 litres frac waste over 5 months, contaminating land, groundwater, and 30 miles of tributary waters with crude oil, chloride, sodium, ammonia, aluminum, arsenic, boron, copper, nickel, selenium, zinc, barium, benzene, thallium and more. When will cowardly AER and Canada’s Dept Justice charge/fine Encana/Ovintiv for illegally frac’ing and contaminating Rosebud’s aquifers and diverting water without the mandatory permit under Alberta’s Water Act?
Turn toxic radioactive frac waste into bathing water to burn your babies’ skin off? To ingest, breath and live with? “It’s economically prohibitive to clean the water.” What do oil & gas companies hate more than anything? Spending money to clean up their deadly pollution, on the environment or to protect public health and our drinking water. Terrifying: Water management market for oil and gas production in the U.S. was worth $33.6 **billion** in 2018 (for their use, not ours!)
Many cross references at end of above post on “regulators” helping industry dump their toxic waste into drinking water aquifers.
Scrubbadubbadub! Happy Frac’ing Holidays! Two earthquakes west of Alberta’s Fox Creek Frac Hub: 4.0M on Dec 25; 4.1M on Dec 30. Like a coronavirus, it spreads. Earthquakes Canada already scrubbed the 4.1M; nothing reported in the media or by AER, again. Too busy farting in Post Media’s War Room.
Alberta: AGS confirms frac’ing caused 4.18M earthquake that rattled many homes from Sylvan Lake to Red Deer last March, knocked out power to 4,600 customers, and caused subsequent 3.13M and smaller cluster of quakes. “Complaints of damage from the event were received.” And a water well was damaged by frac’ing near Sylvan.
USGS reports 5 earthquakes, including three of 3.6M, strike Oklahoma, felt 247 miles away in Texas and 168 miles away in Kansas, a week after Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals rules New Dominion LLC must face class-action lawsuit filed by Prague earthquake victims
Shale gas frac’ing wasted ‘millions of taxpayers’ cash’, say scientists; Frac quakes force Tory Gov’t to Ban Frac’ing. Fracking Free Ireland Welcomes the Ban in Press Release to all TDs & MPs while industry spins itself silly
Nikiforuk: New report by BC regulator admits frac quake risk is high with formations “in a near critical state, meaning only small fluid pressure increases are sufficient to cause specific sets of fractures and faults to become critically stressed.” Researchers still can’t say where or why; Public complaints surging as frac quakes escalate. Have you read the small print of your home insurance policy?
Oklahoma Kingfisher-Blaine County line: Another frac hit? Industry-caused damaging earthquake? Officials believe related to oil & gas industry: 3,000 gallons “highly toxic saltwater bubbling to surface every day.” Regulator: “Something you never want to see, is something bubbling to surface like this.”
UK: Cuadrilla moving out! “Frack Free Lancashire is delighted to learn that 35 days after they caused a 2.9ML earthquake which shook the Fylde and the confidence of their investors, Cuadrilla are finally demobilising…. The seismic activity which they provoked has not stopped though, with the 133rd event being recorded on Saturday, five weeks after they last fracked.”
Scientific American: Even if Injection of Frac Wastewater Stops, Quakes Won’t; Oklahoma’s state seismologist, Jacob Walter: 900 fold increase in earthquakes in past decade of oil & gas frac boom is “unprecedented in human history”
Lancashire UK: Cuadrilla apologises over quakes while trivializing the damages to homes and wants to keep frac’ing. What will the frac-greedy politicians and regulator do? “The whole house went backwards and forwards. [It] was a really strong movement.”
University of Calgary seismologists say they make monumental discovery: Increased fluid pressure is main triggering mechanism of fluids injection-induced earthquakes by either reducing frictional resistance of the fault or altering fault loading conditions.
UK, Blackpool: Cuadrilla’s quakes won’t stop even though work ordered stopped. Bigger quake, 2.9M, damages countless homes, 450 residents protest, demand frac ban. Company’s earthquakes keep getting bigger: 2.1M quake, felt by residents, days after previous record set at 1.6M, also felt by residents. Cuadrilla had promised it would keep quakes below 0.5M
Another frac ‘n gag to cover up frac damages? Cuadrilla signs non-disclosure agreement with UK’s national earthquake monitoring agency, British Geological Survey, to ‘destroy confidential documents’ and release operational data only at company’s request
Lancashire frac’ing: 1.6M earthquake stops Cuadrilla’s work “This is a serious issue and we know that seismic activity at similar levels deformed the well bore at Preese Hall, which Cuadrilla failed to report to the relevant authorities for six months.”
4.1M earthquake hits near Esterhazy, Saskatchewan, “rattling homes.” Power out for Esterhazy, Whitewood, Moosomin, Rockanville, Wapella, Tantallon for 2.5 hours. “My mother’s rocking chair started rocking.” Children screamed and cried, “It was scary.” Earthquakes Canada reports it “lightly felt.” Numerous new “undefined” directional wells drilled in area.
Lancashire UK: More frac failures plague Cuadrilla, company tries but fails to seal the well and caused 57 earthquakes. How much methane is migrating into aquifers and homes? “We have little confidence in Cuadrilla’s technical abilities….”
Oklahoma citizens with property in nine central counties (about 400 homes and some businesses) that suffered damage from 2011 earthquakes caused by oil industry waste injection gain class-action status
Terrifying! Injected oilfield wastewater may trigger earthquakes for ‘decades.’ More terrifying: Percentage of high-magnitude quakes felt at the surface increases with depth of waste injected & may create greater magnitude quakes years after injection rates decline or stop.
Vesta Energy Ltd update on 4.6M fracquake near Red Deer March 4, 2019 that knocked out power to 4,600 Fortis Alberta customers, some reports of damage including to home driveway and underground electrical line.
Rimbey-area landowner, Stan Pederson, experienced damages to driveway and underground electrical line (requires $2,500.00 repair) at time of Vesta’s 4.6M frac quake; is worried area water wells might have been cracked by the quake felt 50 km away. What about cracks to energy well bores? How many are leaking hydrocarbons into groundwater and or to surface because of frac quakes?
4.6M earthquake, 1 km in depth, most powerful yet in central Alberta, hits SW of Red Deer, cracks walls in homes, knocks power out to thousands. Vesta Energy reports quake to AER, shuts down frac’ing. AER investigating. Geological Survey of Canada says looks like fra’cing didn’t do it.
2018. There were more frac quake reports during this year, but Klippensteins law firm (my then lawyers, Murray Klippenstein and Cory Wangless, abruptly quit, contrary to the rules of their profession) withheld my website from me for nearly a year, and ignored my concerns and correspondence, so I was unable to post them all. I gave up posting the files I had collected and saved.
Gail Atkinson, earthquake expert: Low-volume fracking found still dangerous; Dutch Court Orders NAM to Immediately Compensate Homeowners in Frac Quake Damages Zone in Groningen for Depreciation even if Homes Not Sold. Will the Corporate Giant Heed the Court? Most Likely Not.
Fox Creek, Alberta Frac Quakes start up again; New Study by Standford Scientists: Small earthquakes at frac sites may be early indicators of bigger quakes to come; Surprising Finding: Arkansas earthquakes mostly caused by hydraulic fracturing, only some by wastewater injection, None caused by trucks
4.2M earthquake rattles Oklahoma state-wide, Felt also in western Arkansas & Wichita, Kansas, Numerous aftershocks. Mitigation obviously not working. Waste disposal in the Area of Interest had previously been sharply reduced, with no new drilling or fracking
Dutch Quakes Rattle NAM (Exxon, Shell partnership); Judges in Assen rule that NAM is liable for Groningen earthquake victims’ stress; NAM’s Gas Greed and global warming could wipe out Wadden Sea heritage site
CAPP Induced Planned Deflection & Dismissal of Frack Quake Risks & Harms? U of A Study: Human-induced seismicity (leaves out the tens of thousands of small frack quakes) and large-scale (why leave out the medium & small-scale production that’s fracked?) hydrocarbon production in PA, WV, OK, ND, TX, USA and SK, AB, BC, Canada
Texas: New Study by TAMEST, State’s Top Scientists (mostly industry supporters, so findings especially damning): Drilling in Shale causes pollution, earthquakes, billions in road damages annually, billions in trucking industry damages annually, 75% increase in rural crashes involving commercial vehicles. Health & Climate Change Impacts Not Assessed. Why Not? Too terrible?
Questerre’s partner to frac Quebec is Repsol, creator of 4.8M world record frackquake, day of Ernst vs AER Supreme Court of Canada hearing. “The Alberta Model” Knocks Quebec’s People to their Knees: Gov’t of Quebec Takes Your Land & Rights, Gives Them to the Frackers – For Free
USGS Study: Oil drilling may have caused 1933 California 6.4M Long Beach earthquake that killed about 120 people and caused massive damages. “There may be no upper limit” to the size of earthquakes caused by the oil industry
Insurer Lloyd’s Wins Right to Fight New Dominion Lawsuit in N.Y. Over Oklahoma Quake Coverage; Lloyds refusing to pay damages claiming water and chemicals injected for fracing doesn’t qualify as pollution
3.8M earthquake location changed from Yorkton to Esterhazy, Saskatchewan; Numerous injection wells there. Caused two hour power outage for several communities. Unbelievable quote by seismologist Dr. Honn Kao, Geological Survey of Canada: “Man-made activity will not cause this kind of magnitude event unless it’s nuclear explosion”
Another 5.6M Earthquake Hits Frac Ravaged Oklahoma: Mitigation Obviously Not Working! Quakes Increasing, No Matter How Many Injection Wells Shut Down or Injection Volumes Reduced. State Of Emergency Declared for Pawnee County. 58,628 people felt the quake, as far as 2,323 km away in Boston, MA
EPA: Oil industry likely to blame for Texas tremors, even if state regulator continues to deny it. EPA alarmed at amount of earthquake activity in Dallas/Forth Worth area and “the public health hazard it could create”
Known risk of earthquakes caused by oil and gas development, BC Hydro worries about fracking unconventionals near dams, specifically coalbed methane and shale gas. “Alberta Offers Lessons In Keeping Oil and Gas Industry ‘Safe’ From A Public Endangered By Fracking”
“Minimal Damage?” Frac waste quakes in Oklahoma keep rising, 4.1M felt 801 km away. Press not reporting it. Authorities diddle & daudle instead of hiring replacement for seismologist Austin Holland. What are Oklahoma authorities afraid of? Studying tens of thousands of frac quakes no one has time for?
B.C. ‘enhances’ earthquake monitoring at oil & gas wells after last year’s fracking shake, 4.6 quake last year largest on record in B.C.; 4.8 on day of Ernst vs AER hearing at Supreme Court of Canada largest in Alberta so far
AER allows Repsol to resume fracking after causing world record 4.8M frac quake (felt 280 km away near Edmonton) in AER’s Fox Creek Blanket Approval Frac Frenzy Free-for-All Experiment. But, Repsol appears too shaken to resume
New news or old? Frac’ing, not waste injection, causing earthquakes in Western Canada. Diana Daunheimer calls out U of Calgary’s David Eaton: “So why are you getting the details on this issue so very wrong Mr. Eaton?”
Frac Waste Quakes Make Time Magazine: The U.S.’s New Earthquake Capital: Oklahoma. “Some seismologists say that even if all disposal activity stopped in the state immediately, there could be earthquakes for decades.”
5.1 M: Oklahoma frac waste quakes rumbling bigger & bigger as USGS predicted. Children scurry under school desks, “and it was great,” say administrators. Quake related? Oklahoma City supermarket evacuated because of possible gas leak
Frac Hell in Oklahoma: Endless quakes. “There’s no lack of conversation. There’s a lack of action.” Plumber blamed for gas leak in elementary school. Company says boiling oilfield waste alternative to injection wells, breathable air be damned
Edmonton’s 630CHED Jespersen Show Interviews Jessica Ernst on her Supreme Court of Canada Hearing vs AER & Dr. Jeffrey Gu on the 4.8M Earthquake at Fox Creek, Alberta (day of Ernst’s Supreme Court Hearing)
NINE STUDIES: US Geological Survey (USGS), University Colorado (UC), Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS), Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory (LBNL) studied sudden man-made earthquakes in Oklahoma, California, Pennsylvania, Ohio, found fracing is the causation
Updated because the frac quakes go on & on & on: Oklahoma again orders oil & gas drillers to reduce amount of frac waste water injected. Why? The natural gas leak & home explosion in Oklahoma City? Where will the frac waste go?
IMPERILED AQUIFERS: Texas flouted federal aquifer rules for 34 years, Failed to get federal approval to inject oil, drilling waste into groundwater, Promised 34 Years Ago to Track Waste into Aquifers. It Didn’t.
The Most Horrific Frac Deregulation Yet? US EPA preparing for “widespread” radioactive frac waste contamination of drinking water or because it’s already happened? EPA’s proposed “protective regulation” to allow dramatically higher levels of radioactivity in drinking water
More lies & frac fraud? Why did AER’s Darin Barter (now NEB) suggest trucks to blame for citizens feeling frac quakes at Cardson? Why not tell the truth? Why are regulators and “experts” so loath to publicly disclose fracing’s many public safety risks?
AER Frac Pilot Project: Earthquakes, tax increases, water restrictions, double homicide, spills and accidents shake Alberta town’s faith in fracking; Aging sour facilities in deregulated Fox Creek a big worry for council; AER’s FracQuake Red Light stops Chevron only 16 days; Families moving out
Dutch Court Suspends Gas Production on earthquake fears; Pennsylvania Insurance Dept Issues Quake Notice: Fracking Exclusion Not Allowed, “Endorsements that attach to homeowners insurance policies in this Commonwealth should cover all earthquakes, whether believed to be ‘naturally occurring’ or caused by ‘human activity’”
Oklahoma Insurance commissioner clarifies “man-made” earthquake policies: 92% of earthquake claims denied by insurers, “Until a legal ruling is made, it is generally assumed that the earthquakes are not man-made” What a lovely escape for frac’ers, always nature’s fault for industry’s crimes and harms.
Eight Industry Leaders to Present at Catastrophe Response Unit Seminar for “all insurance claims management, adjusters and industry personnel” includes feature presentation: “Fracking Induced Earthquakes”.
Quakes in Gas Fields Ignored for Years, Dutch Safety Agency’s report a relevant read for any fracking zone; Fox Creek frac quakes make AER play deregulation with you and your loved ones: “Red Light = Green Light”
After whopping 4.1 earthquake, Oklahoma regulators were finally fracking fed up, ordered injection well shut down; In Alberta, after 4.4 global frac quake record and aftershocks, it’s “No Duty of Care” frac as usual, harms be damned
Fracking Quakes Pose Added Risks but Oil and Gas Companies Refuse to Share their Collected Seismic Data. “In low seismic environments like Fox Creek where the natural earthquakes are infrequent, the hazards from an induced seismic event can exceed the hazards from a natural source”
New BC OGC Report: From August 2013 to October 2014 Fracking directly caused 193 earthquakes (11 felt on surface), 38 more caused by waste injection, in Montney basin area surrounding Dawson Creek and Ft St John
Goldenkey CFO regarding Lethbridge Penny Project: “We’ve heard many things and we may give up this one” and suggested frac waste water injection nothing to worry about even though it has been proven to cause damaging earthquakes
Sneaky buggers! The 272 earthquakes found by Canadian regulators to have been directly caused by hydraulic fracturing, officially reported in August 2012, are excluded, as well as the many caused by frac’ing in the USA to mid-2011, long before this map was created. Why are only the quakes caused by Cuadrilla in the UK included on the map?
Why are authorities hiding that hydraulic fracturing (not just waste water injection) is directly causing earthquakes?
UK Prime Minister David Cameron: ‘UK fracking will be safe’ – ‘There is no question of having earthquakes and fire coming out of taps’ Pffffft, just another lying big-oil-pimping politician.
Earthquakes from onshore gas drilling threaten a disaster, warn residents of Dutch city, Residents of the Dutch city of Groningen are up in arms over onshore gas drilling that has triggered earthquakes, damaging homes and sending property prices crashing
Spanish earthquake in Lorca ‘triggered by groundwater extraction’, A major earthquake in Spain that killed nine people and destroyed hundreds of homes was triggered by groundwater extraction, a scientific study has found
Earthquake threats won’t stall fracking in B.C., industry officials say Shows us who really regulates industry: Industry.
The gas field was discovered in 1956 and production began in 1962. Over the next 14 years, roughly 600×106 m3 of water, or 106 ton per km2, were injected. …
Beginning in 1976, a series of large earthquakes was recorded. The first significant earthquake occurred on April 8, 1976 at a distance of 20 km [12 miles] from the Gazli gasfield boundary. The earthquake magnitude measured 6.8. Just 39 days later, on May 17, 1976, another severe earthquake occurred 27 km [17 miles] to the west of the first one. The magnitude of the second earthquake was 7.3. Eight years later, on March 20, 1984, a third earthquake occurred 15 km [9miles] to the west of the second earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.2. … Aftershocks occurred in a volume surrounding the three hypocentres. These earthquakes are the strongest of all the known earthquakes in the plain of Central Asia. …
There was no clear relationship between the location of the earthquake hypocenters and any previously known active tectonic structures.
Closer investigation showed that the earthquakes had created new faults.
… In all these cases, the result of human interference was to change the state of stress in the surrounding volume of earth. If the stress change is big enough, it can cause an earthquake, either by fracturing the rock mass—in the case of mining or underground explosions—or by causing rock to slip along existing zones of weakness.
The situation in regions of hydrocarbon recovery is not always well understood: in some places, extraction of fluid induces seismicity; in others, injection induces seismicity.
… Even minor actions can trigger strong seismicity.
… The amassed data indicate that the Gazli earthquakes were triggered by the exploitation of the gas field.
In regions of high tectonic potential energy, hydrocarbon production can cause severe increases in seismic activity and trigger strong earthquakes, as in Gazli, Uzbekistan.
In regions of lower tectonic stress, earthquakes of that magnitude are less likely, but relatively weak earthquakes could occur and damage surface structures.