The Kansas Corporation Commission has approved an order that puts additional limits on the amount of saltwater that oil and gas producers may inject into wells in Harper and Sumner counties and parts of Kingman, Sedgwick and Barber counties. The change, which is related to earthquake activity, also expands the area where underground disposal is restricted.
The quakes have been linked to and are occurring in areas where massive amounts of wastewater, a byproduct of oil and gas production, is pumped back into the ground under pressure. The new order limits the amount of water that can be injected into the Arbuckle formation to 16,000 barrels per day.
A March 2015 order limited injections to 8,000 barrels per day in five areas in Harper and Sumner Counties because of what the KCC described as “an immediate danger to the public health, safety and welfare” that existed because of increased seismic activity related to the injection of saltwater.
According to the KCC, that limit on injection coincided with fewer earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 but data has shown an increase in smaller earthquakes outside of those areas.
The KCC says staff will monitor the seismic activity in the affected areas and report back to the commission next spring.
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