Image courtesy of David Martin Davies/Flickr.

Texas’ oil and gas regulator said Thursday that a waste water disposal well operated by Houston-based EnerVest is not linked to a series of North Texas earthquakes.

According to the Dallas Morning News, the Texas Railroad Commission released preliminary findings that concluded the evidence does not support a link between the well and earthquakes around the North Texas town of Azele in 2013 and 2014.

The commission also recommended the well should be permitted to continue operating.

The inquiry was prompted by a Southern Methodist University (SMU) study that suggested the EnerVest well, along with an XTO Energy disposal well, triggered earthquakes near Azle in 2013 and 2014.

Last month, the commissions concluded that the wastewater disposal well operated by XTO Energy in Azle, Texas most likely did not cause seismic events in 2013.

However, that report added that there was not enough evidence to determine if the earthquakes were caused by natural seismic shifts.

“SMU’s seismology team stands by its research and does not comment on public policy,” an SMU spokeswoman told the Dallas Morning News.

Both companies have refuted the conclusions made in the SMU study.

The Texas Railroad Commission also recommend in Thursday’s findings that no action be taken on permits held by EnerVest or XTO Energy, the Texas Tribune said.

The parties involved have 15 days to respond to the report before it’s finalized.

Last year, the Texas Railroad Commission unanimously agreed to tighten waste water disposal well regulations in an effort to prevent drilling induced earthquakes.

The commission can now force operators to turn over records of the amount of water injected into disposal wells and the downhole pressure of wells and has more power to limit the amount of water injected into a well.

The commission temporarily shut in five North Texas disposal wells in May after a 4.0 magnitude earthquake shook the city of Venus.


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