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Energy and Environment
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Oklahoma Corporation Commission Creates New Seismicity Guidelines

Joe Wertz
StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has created seismicity guidelines that new oil and gas operations in two areas of the state must follow.

The affected area includes land from the north-central part of the state, east of Oklahoma City, all the way to the Texas border. The new operations are expected to account for the "vast majority" of new oil and gas activity in the state. Scientists have linked Oklahoma's sharp increase in earthquakes to the underground disposal of wastewater from oil and gas production.

But according to the OCC, drilling operations in the area won't produce as much wastewater as other areas where earthquake activity has increased. And less wastewater means less underground disposal, which according to the Oklahoma Geological Survey, means earthquakes will be less frequent and of a much lower magnitude.

According to the new guidelines, if an earthquake of magnitude 3.5 or higher occurs within just over a mile of the hydraulic fracturing operations, all drilling and disposal must be suspended. There are also rules in place for smaller quakes, including mitigation practices.


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