Judge Tosses Appeal to Re-Open Trumbull, OH Injection Well

It appears that in Ohio it’s A.O.K. for regulatory bodies to write laws–something the legislature is supposed to do–and not only can they write laws, they can take their sweet time doing it, denying a legally permitted business the right to conduct operations in the meantime. And if the legally permitted business seeks justice in the court system? Yeah, even the judge sides with the all-powerful state to prevent that business from operating. That about sums up the situation in Ohio for American Water Management Services (AWMS). AWMS owns a wastewater injection well in Trumbull County that supposedly caused a low-level earthquake (that nobody could feel) in 2014. Two wells located at the site, both operated by AWMS, were “temporarily” shut down by the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources following the quake (see ODNR Temporarily Shuts Down Injection Wells After Low-Level Quake). One of the two injection wells was allowed to re-open, but not the other (see ODNR Clears Trumbull Co. Injection Well in August Quake). Why was one well allowed to re-open but not the other? Because the ODNR is supposedly crafting new regulations that will govern the offending well that may or may not have caused the low-level quake. When will we see those new regs? Who knows! AWMS appealed ODNR’s decision to keep the second well shut down to the Ohio Oil and Gas Commission, a body that works for (yes) the ODNR. Unsurprisingly the Commission found ODNR is within its right to keep the second well shut down while it takes its time writing new regulations. AWMS appealed the Commission’s decision to a court, and the judge threw out the case because of a filing deadline legal hoop AWMS didn’t jump through properly…
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Canadian Summertime Earthquake Said to be Tied to Fracking

This is not strictly a Marcellus/Utica story, but interesting and relevant nonetheless. Last summer a 4.6 magnitude earthquake hit northeast British Columbia (Canada). The BC Oil and Gas Commission has confirmed that the quake was as a result of fracking shale wells in the area. This is perhaps the fifth or sixth time fracking itself–and not a wastewater injection well–has been tied to an earthquake. Ever. Worldwide. Which means fracking causes earthquakes, statistically speaking, 0% of the time. Of course that kind of context won’t get reported as the meme of “Canada confirms fracking caused quake” bounces around the mainstream mediasphere. Which is why we bring you the news here on MDN–to provide context that an instance where fracking actually does cause an earthquake is as rare as hen’s teeth. The truly amazing aspect of the story is this: BC authorities didn’t shut down the fracking operation! They took a very adult, mature approach: Back off a bit on the pressure you’re using to frack the well with, and if another quake then happens, we’ll shut it all down and think through another approach…
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New Report Finds Less than 1% of Injection Wells Cause Earthquakes

One of the news stories that is constantly recycled by anti-drillers and a sycophantic media is that “fracking causes earthquakes.” They intentionally perpetuate a knowing lie because, well, because it’s so effective. Who in their right mind would support an activity that causes earthquakes?! Here’s the thing: Fracking itself has been tied to earthquakes in less than five instances worldwide. Statistically zero. However, wastewater from fracking that’s disposed of via a deep injection well (sometimes called a saltwater well) has caused earthquakes. So antis try to link the two together, blurring the lines and claiming fracking itself is the cause. Our friends at the top notch Energy in Depth has just issued a research paper (full copy below) that quantifies just how often earthquakes are tied to injection wells. What they found is that earthquakes have been tied to (caused by) 218 wastewater injection wells. Know how many injection wells there are in the U.S.? Around 40,000. If you do the math, that’s about one-half of one percent of injection wells cause earthquake problems…
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Is Tuesday’s Harrison County, OH Earthquake Tied to Fracking?

snoozingA small earthquake that nobody felt (2.1 on the Richter scale) hit Harrison County, OH Tuesday evening. There was immediate speculation about whether or not the earthquake is tied to Utica Shale drilling in the area. Aubrey McClendon’s Ascent Resources is drilling near where the quake originated. It’s WAY too early to even speculate on whether or not the quake is tied to a fracking operation. IF (a very big IF) fracking did cause this quake, it would be the sixth known time that fracking itself (instead of an injection well) has caused an earthquake–out of millions of wells drilled and fracked. Statistically zero…
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OH & Other States Release Report on Injection Wells & Earthquakes

StatesFirst Seismicity PrimerCountless times MDN has told you that in rare cases, injecting fracking wastewater into a deep, underground Class II injection well (for disposal) can cause earthquakes–if the injection well is located over a fault. When you inject fluids under high pressure into rock formations with a fault it can act like a lubricant, allowing the rocks to slip and slide–causing a low-level earthquake. It’s happened in Ohio. It’s happened (a lot) in Oklahoma. It’s happened in Texas. And in other states too. Thirteen oil and gas states joined together with the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) and Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) to form the StatesFirst Initiative, a working group to pool their knowledge and try and figure out how, and under what conditions, injection wells cause earthquakes. Co-heading the initiative is Ohio’s Chief for the Division of Oil & Gas Resources Management (Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources), Rick Simmers. Rick and the working group have just released a 150-page Primer (copy below) to help regulatory agencies evaluate and develop good policies to mitigate and prevent earthquakes from injection wells…
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OH Minority Report: Shut Down Wells Before They Cause Earthquakes

Minority ReportThe Chief of the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management for the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (currently Rick Simmers) is a man with a lot of power. He has the power, according to a ruling just handed down on August 12, to make his own decisions about suspending permits to operate in the absence of specific violations of a law or regulation. In September 2014 Simmers suspended permits for two wastewater injection wells in Trumbull County, OH after a very low level earthquake was detected close to those wells (an earthquake that couldn’t be felt at the surface and caused no damage of any kind). American Water Management Services sued saying they hadn’t violated any laws or regulations on the books and their permits could not just be arbitrarily revoked like that. But the Ohio Oil and Gas Commission said nope–Tom Cruise, er, a, Mr. Simmers can arbitrarily do what he wants when there is no specific rule or guideline or law–because he has the best interests of the people at heart…
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USGS Updates Models for Determining Earthquakes from Injection Wells

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) issued an update yesterday into how they evaluate whether or not earthquakes are being caused by deep injection wells–wells that are disposing frack wastewater. USGS says, “Significant strides in science have been made to better understand potential ground shaking from induced earthquakes, which are earthquakes triggered by man-made practices.” And so they’ve issued a report that “outlines a preliminary set of models to forecast how hazardous ground shaking could be in the areas where sharp increases in seismicity have been recorded.” Translation: We’ve updated our best guesses about how this works. The new report is titled “Incorporating Induced Seismicity in the 2014 United States National Seismic Hazard Model–Results of 2014 Workshop and Sensitivity Studies” (full copy below). USGS concludes that it is almost always injection wells–over faults–that are the cause of induced earthquakes, and NOT fracking itself. The USGS says, “Many questions have been raised about whether hydraulic fracturing—commonly referred to as “fracking”—is responsible for the recent increase of earthquakes. USGS’s studies suggest that the actual hydraulic fracturing process is only occasionally the direct cause of felt earthquakes.” The word “occasionally” translates to this: you can count on one hand the number of times fracking (over a fault) has led to an earthquake…
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USGS Scientists: Earthquakes from Injection Wells Can be Mitigated

Last week a scientific research paper was published in the magazine Science on the topic of earthquakes related to injection wells. The paper is the result of a series of workshops by the U.S. Geological Survey. Although we don’t have a copy of the full paper, we do have a summary. A summary of the summary is this: fracking shale results in a lot of fluid that gets disposed of via Class II injection wells. Some of those wells are near faults and result in tremors–most of the time unfelt. There is, in the opinion of the USGS scientists, a direct connection between the increase in fluid injection from shale drilling and the rise (and clusters) of low-level earthquakes. The good news? There are strategies for “mitigating the effects of human-induced earthquakes caused by wastewater injection” which are discussed in the paper…
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EPA Sees Connection Between Some Injection Wells & Earthquakes

On February 5th the Underground Injection Control National Technical Workgroup, part of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, released their final report on a potential link between wastewater injection wells (called Class II wells) and earthquakes. To which we say, we knew a probable connection existed three plus years ago. That’s the typical lag you get with when the federal government “investigates” something. The report is titled “Minimizing and Managing Potential Impacts of Injection-Induced Seismicity from Class II Disposal Wells: Practical Approaches” (the full 415-page copy is embedded below). The report says, in essence, while they can’t prove there’s connection between injection wells in some locations and earthquakes, the relationship is “undeniable.” MDN’s comment: What everyone acknowledges is that when you inject fluid into the earth over an active fault line, that fluid acts like grease and eventually the rock layers can, in RARE circumstances, slip and slide, causing a LOW LEVEL earthquake–typically so light no one feels it at the surface. The EPA study was based on cases from four states, two of them (OH & WV) in the Marcellus/Utica region…
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OH Researchers Confirm Hilcorp Fracking Caused Low-Level Quakes

According to one graduate student and two professors at Miami University of Ohio, the fracking done by Hilcorp in the Youngstown area DID cause some low-level earthquakes (see ODNR Says Youngstown Earthquakes “Probably” Caused by Fracking). The three researchers are set to publish an article titled “Earthquakes Induced by Hydraulic fracturing in Poland Township, Ohio” in the February/March issue of the peer-reviewed Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. Using a technique called “template matching” the researchers say they could identify 77 earthquakes, all except one that could not even be felt at the surface (and the one was barely felt) and matched those quakes to fracking activities by Hilcorp. The researchers stressed that the only reason the quakes happened was because Hilcorp was fracking directly over top of a previously unknown underground fault. They also said it was a very small portion of the frack operations that led to the quakes…
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GASFRAC Says LPG Waterless Fracking May Prevent Earthquakes

Last week MDN was the first to bring you the news that Canadian company GASFRAC has (after two years) finally begun fracking an Ohio Utica Shale well using liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG (see GASFRAC Begins Waterless Fracking Job in OH Utica). GASFRAC’s senior management held an analyst call last week to discuss the company’s performance (the company’s financials are not good). As part of that call was a Q&A in which the Utica well they’re now working on was discussed. We found the banter interesting. One of the more interesting aspects was GASFRAC’s contention that LPG fracking used in places where earthquakes are a concern (like Ohio) may reduce the likelihood of a fracking-induced earthquake from occurring…
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Study Says Series of Unfelt Earthquakes in OH from Utica Fracking

Another day, another “study” that says fracking causes earthquakes–this time in Ohio’s Utica Shale. In typical and now predictable fashion, mainstream media does a “drive-by” with the information–like a drive-by shooting–and then continues on its merry way. Here at MDN we’ll break it down and explain it so you have ALL the facts and not anti-drilling “impressions” of what the data says. First off, an admission that we don’t (yet) have a full copy of the newly published study, which has reportedly been published in the journal Seismological Research Letters (but which we can’t find on their website). We’ve requested a full copy of the paper and are awaiting it and hope to share it with you when we get it. The study is titled, “Characterization of an earthquake sequence triggered by hydraulic fracturing in Harrison County Ohio” and looks at a series of “400 earthquakes” that were so tiny as to be unfelt by anyone–but detectable by finely tuned equipment. The earthquakes happened in Harrison County, OH and are thought (but not proven) to be the result of fracking several Utica wells over top of a previously unknown geologic fault. The author of the study himself says the earthquakes couldn’t even be felt by anyone…
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ODNR Clears Trumbull Co. Injection Well in August Quake

An earthquake nobody felt on August 31 caused the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) to shut two frack wastewater injection wells in Weathersfield (Trumbull County), OH operated by American Water Management Services (see ODNR Temporarily Shuts Down Injection Wells After Low-Level Quake). ODNR has been hard at work trying to determine whether or not either of the wells may have caused the low-level (nobody could feel) quake. Last Thursday they gave the shallower of the two wells, the AWMS #1, the all-clear sign. American Water can restart that well at any time (and likely already has). However, they’re not quite ready to restart the deeper AWMS #2…
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ODNR Temporarily Shuts Down Injection Wells After Low-Level Quake

earthquakeOn Sunday, August 31 at 5:45 pm, there was an earthquake in the vicinity of Weathersfield (Trumbull County), OH. However, no one felt it. The only way anyone knew there was a quake was because of monitoring by the U.S. Geological Survey. The Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR) is investigating whether or not two wastewater injection wells, operated by American Water Management Services (AWMS), was the cause of that low-level quake that no one felt. According to the ODNR, from an “abundance of caution” they asked AWMS to shut down operations at those two wells while they investigate, which has now been done…
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Run for the Beach! The Hills are “Swarming” with Earthquakes!!

Who knew that earthquakes can “swarm”–you know, like bees or locusts? That’s the absurd fearmongering nonsense being peddled by the nutters at Frackfree Mahoning Valley (Mahoning County, OH). They recently issued a press release (below) that says if wastewater injection wells are allowed to continue operating in Mahoning County, “swarms” of earthquakes will follow. Sounds almost biblical, doesn’t it?…
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Injection Well Earthquakes 16X Less Potent than Regular Quakes

Over the past several years one of anti-drillers’ favorite issues to misrepresent and demagogue is the old lie that “fracking causes earthquakes.” We’ve written many articles examining and debunking that issue (see MDN’s earthquake articles here). It’s always good to establish that fracking itself has caused, at most, 4 earthquakes–out of the 100,000 or more times horizontal fracking has been used. Statistically it’s zero. However, a byproduct of fracking–leftover water and fluid–sometimes is disposed via a deep injection well. IF you inject fluids in a well that HAPPENS to be located near an active earthquake fault, that fluid can cause rock plates to slip, like greasing two pieces of metal that causes them to become slippery. Now a researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey says research shows that earthquakes caused by injection wells result in far less shaking (and damage) than regular old tectonic plate earthquakes…
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