TX House Subcommittee Hears Testimony from Railroad Commission Seismologist on Proposed Rules Related to Disposal Wells in High-Risk Seismic Areas

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to investigate the possible correlation between seismic events and oil and gas activity.
 
Posted in Disposal Wells, Texas

Following the Texas Railroad Commission’s recent proposal for additional rules related to disposal wells in “high-risk” seismic areas, on Monday, August 25, members of the Texas House Subcommittee on Seismic Activity heard testimony from Dr. Craig Pearson, the seismologist hired by the Railroad Commission to investigate the possible correlation between seismic events and oil and gas activity. Pearson’s hiring followed a number of small earthquakes that occurred in late 2013 near the town of Azle, Texas, which sits atop the Barnett Shale formation. Pearson testified that seismic activity has continued in the previously affected area, but the tremors have registered below 1.0 on the Richter Scale, and are unfelt by most people.

The proposed rule amendments would include a new requirement that an applicant for a disposal well determine the radius of the 10-year, five pounds per square inch (psi) pressure front boundary from the proposed disposal well location and use that radius to retrieve information from the U.S. Geological Survey regarding the locations of any historical seismic events within that radius. “When you start injecting into an underground reservoir, you begin to build the pressure anomaly within that reservoir, and there’s a front that moves away from the well with time and volume,” said Pearson.

Pearson believes that the key to preventing unwanted seismic activity is for an operator to understand how the increased pressure from injections to a disposal well will affect seismic activity in the surrounding area. “The rules as they exist today were written to protect our groundwater resources. Because we’re now dealing with the new seismicity, we’ve got to worry not just about water moving up, but waters moving out to faults, old, dormant faults, perhaps, and especially those faults that are associated with the basement rock,” said Pearson. Pearson testified that he has requested proprietary information from several companies operating wells in the Barnett Shale formation, and their cooperation has been “fantastic.”

The Railroad Commission will accept public comment on the proposed rules until September 29. The subcommittee will report its findings to the House Committee on Energy Resources, which oversees the activities of the Railroad Commission.

– Additional Media Coverage can be found here.

http://www.northamericashaleblog.com/2014/08/29/tx-house-subcommittee-hears-testimony-from-railroad-commission-seismologist-on-proposed-rules-related-to-disposal-wells-in-high-risk-seismic-areas/?utm_source=BakerHostetler+-+North+America+Shale+Blog&utm_campaign=8c784ae18d-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3acdef8870-8c784ae18d-70646329

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Texas Railroad Commission Proposes New Regulations for High-Risk Seismic Areas

Posted in Earthquakes, Hydraulic Fracturing, Texas

 

On Tuesday, amidst claims that hydraulic fracturing could be causing earthquakes in some parts of Texas, the Texas Railroad Commission proposed amendments to permitting regulations for injection wells. The proposed rules would require drillers to submit additional information as part of the permit application process for injection wells in areas designated as high-risk for seismic activity.

The proposed rules define an area as “high-risk” if it has characteristics that may increase the risk that hydraulic fracturing fluids won’t be confined exclusively to the injection interval, including areas that exhibit complex geology or a history of seismic events. Permit applicants who want to operate an injection well in a high-risk area would be required to submit information from the United States Geological Survey related to seismic activity in the area of elevated pressure created by the injection of fluids into the subsurface, logs, geologic cross-sections and structure maps. The proposed rules would also allow the Commission to suspend or terminate a permit if seismic activity occurs near an injection well.

“Whether there is a definitive link or not between disposal wells and seismic activity in Texas has not been determined,” Commission spokeswoman Ramona Nye said. “As our agency continues to work with the scientific community to coordinate an exchange of information … we have seen a need for laying the groundwork for some basic industry best practices.” The Commission estimates that the proposed regulations would add about $300 per injection well permit application. The public comment period for the regulations is open until noon on September 29, 2014.

Media Coverage Resources:

Proposed Amendment of 16 Tex. Admin. Code § 3.9, relating to Disposal Wells, and § 3.46, relating to Fluid Injection into Productive Reservoirs; Oil & Gas Docket No. 20-0290951.

Quake reaction: Railroad Commission looks at new rules for injection wells

http://www.northamericashaleblog.com/2014/08/14/texas-railroad-commission-proposes-new-regulations-for-high-risk-seismic-areas/