Better late than never…

Its been awhile since we visited the homes shaking on the range…

A recent note in Energywire on the likely imminent collapse of one oil and gas company happens to cover a number of actions by regulators in Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas that are putting the squeeze on some oil and gas operators in the area.  The cause? Regulators have finally started approaching injection wells with caution.

What is going on, according to the story, is

“…a widespread effort in Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas to decrease tremors. Methods include shutting down wastewater injection wells, making the wells more shallow or decreasing the amount of water in each. Operators in Oklahoma made 137 wells shallower since July and decreased the volume in 61 others.

“Arkansas shut down four wells believed to be causing quakes while Kansas halved the amount of wastewater that companies can inject for 72 wells….”

This has hit SandRidge Energy particularly hard as this is their home area; between the reduction in capacity for their disposal wells and the current drop in oil prices, the company faces bankruptcy.

There is nothing like serious financial consequences to get industry’s attention, and the potential failure of a company has got to get the attention of industry leaders. Hopefully the response is to approach the whole injection well process with greater caution; this would be best for all involved.  Most injection wells seem to have little capacity for creating earthquakes, but some clearly do cause them. Allowing for the possibility that a well could cause trouble in planning for the well and budgeting for it  will make it far less likely that troublesome wells will continue to be operated. While this isn’t as strong a message as being directly saddled with liability, it is a good step forward.

Its not like the oil and gas industry never deals with uncertainty.  They have loads of experience in evaluating the prospect of failure in their exploration and production activities; extending this to include issues with seismicity in injection wells should be a no-brainer.

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