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Oklahoma Corporation Commission Issues New Guidelines For Fracking

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[File Photo] [File Photo]
OKLAHOMA CITY -

If there's a big earthquake near a fracking job, operators in a large part of the state will now be required to shut down. That's according to new regulations by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

In Blanchard this summer, residents were rattled when they suddenly started having earthquakes.

"They never happen out here, never," said Janie Sotomayor back then. "That’s the one thing we were spared from."

With no nearby disposal wells seismologists believe fracking at a site near Dibble was likely the cause.

"As the activity has started up here we’ve seen a couple important instances," said Oklahoma Geological Survey Director Jeremy Boak.

Blanchard is in the so-called SCOOP and STACK area that is believed to be the next big play in Oklahoma.  This is also the area the Oklahoma Corporation Commission will be regulating when it comes to fracking.

Under the new regulations a 3.0 magnitude earthquake near the frack site will require a producers to pause operations for at least 6 hours.  A 3.5 and they will have to shut down.

"Once the operation stops there’s no risk, there can’t be seismic activity related to the fracking," said Matt Skinner, with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

Skinner says their main concern remains with disposal wells that are believed to cause strong earthquakes like we've recently experienced. But since there's much more data about hydraulic fracking it is simpler address the risk.

And Boak say there are risks.

"In a small number of frack jobs we’ve seen a small number of earthquakes, generally small magnitude," said Boak.

The Oklahoma Oil & Gas Association (OKOGA) Tuesday said its member companies are ready to immediately implement the new guidelines.  

"The Commission’s announcement is another example of states being in the best position to move quickly and effectively to properly regulate oil and natural gas activities using transparent data and sound science,” said OKOGA’s President Chad Warmington. “The new guidelines to manage and mitigate anomalous seismic events will help to protect and maximize the development of Oklahoma’s abundant natural resources for years to come. As the data indicates, these seismic events have been small, rare and manageable. OKOGA operators in Oklahoma are actively monitoring their operations and adjusting in real time if they identify geologic risk factors, using methods that have proven effective in Ohio and British Colombia. The OCC’s new guidelines will compliment these efforts."

"Seismic activity in Oklahoma is down more than 20 percent since last year, thanks to measures taken by the state in collaboration with the Oklahoma oil and natural gas industry and the scientific community. We remain committed to being an active partner and working together to understand and further reduce the number of seismic events in Oklahoma."

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