Oklahoma’s oil and gas regulator has once again curbed the amount of wastewater producers can inject into the Arbuckle formation in an effort to reduce seismic activity.
The Oklahoma Corporate Commission issued a new action on Monday focused on central Oklahoma that will cover more than 5,000 square miles and more than 400 Arbuckle disposal wells.
OGCD director Tim Baker said the goal of the central Oklahoma plan is to reduce total disposal volumes in the area to 40 percent below the 2014 total.
“This means a reduction of more than 300,000 barrels a day from the 2015 average injection volumes,” Baker said.
The central Oklahoma volume reduction plan will be phased in over two months in keeping with recommendations from researchers, who warn against sudden pressure changes.
The first stage of the plan began on Monday and the agency began notifying well operators on March 3.
The agency said the central Oklahoma action is similar to the regional response strategy that was implemented in western Oklahoma on February 16.
The two actions cover over 10,000 combined square miles and more than 600 Arbuckle disposal wells.
In a separate action, the OGCD also increased the size of the “yellow light” area that will impose more restrictions on disposal well operations in areas that “have not yet seen major earthquake activity.”
The second action will result in 118 more Arbuckle disposal wells being covered by the “yellow light” earthquake precautions.
The agency said the yellow light area expansion will also “eliminates the possibility of administrative approval of a new Arbuckle disposal well application”
“The central Oklahoma volume reduction plan covers an area where we have taken numerous, localized actions over the past 12 months, such as in the Cushing, Crescent, and Edmond areas. But the research and data has grown to provide the basis needed to both expand into a regional approach for volume reduction and increase the size of the AOI,” Baker said.
The actions follow a 2014 report published by the Oklahoma Geological Survey that claimed wastewater disposal wells used during hydraulic fracturing may have triggered some earthquakes in the state.
“Our working relationship with the Oklahoma Geological Survey continues to bear more fruit, greatly helped by the fact that we have been able to add staff to the earthquake effort as a result of the emergency funding from Governor Fallin and grants from the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board and the Groundwater Protection Council,” Baker added.