In a few days, 37 injection wells near Pawnee will be shut down indefinitely. This was ordered by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission after the 5.6 magnitude earthquake on Saturday.
Chad Warmington, President of Oklahoma Oil & Gas Association, said this will impact the economy. Some of them are multi-million dollar wastewater injection wells. For those companies, it will be a big loss over time.
Like most people across the state, Warmington felt the big shake up. “My reaction is disappointment that we had it because we are really making good progress overall in the state. Seismicity is down significantly,” he said.
The injection wells in the impacted area were already on a 40 percent reduction off their 2014 volumes, directed by the OCC. After Saturday’s quake, instead of reducing wastewater injection more, the volume will go down to nothing. And the shutdown is indefinite.
Warmington believes the OCC is trying to find a balance. “I think their response was they didn’t get the response that we wanted in that area, so they want to go to a shutdown to see if that helps quiet it down.”
By Saturday, those within five miles of the epicenter will need to have the wells shut down. Then by the 13th, those within 10 miles will need to be shut down.
Warmington said it’s a tough situation, but he understands why the OCC is calling for this. “These directives are going to minimize the amount of production which obviously minimizes the amount of tax revenue that is paid, the jobs that are created by these companies. But the balance is public safety,” he said.
Some companies, in the meantime, may move wastewater to other wells outside of the shutdown area, but Warmington said there is a cap to that.
In addition, the EPA is ordering 17 more injection wells under federal control to be shut down in the 200 square mile of Osage County.