OGS: Number, Strength Of Earthquakes Are Down


Tuesday, June 28th 2016, 5:50 pm
By: Dana Hertneky


This time last year, Oklahomans were feeling multiple, good-sized earthquakes daily. 

Since then, the Corporation Commission has limited the amount of wastewater that's being injected back into the earth.

The Corporation Commission started aggressively cutting volume to disposal wells in February in western Oklahoma and in central Oklahoma in March. Since then, the numbers show Oklahomans are seeing fewer earthquakes and the quakes are not as strong.

It was almost exactly a year ago when the earthquakes were coming fast and furious at Nick Slepko's Edmond home. 

“Throughout the day, we had approximately 32 to 35, one right after another,” he told News 9. “Some were small and some were just humongous.”

But now: “We’ve had a few, but nothing like the major booms.”

According to the Oklahoma Geological Survey, this June is shaping up to have the fewest earthquakes since mid-2014. Oklahoma hasn't had a magnitude 4.0 or larger since March.

Jeremy Boak with the Oklahoma Geological Survey said about a quarter to a third of the reduction can be credited to the Corporation Commission's mandates.

“At the same time, there are more reductions than that," he explains. “Almost a million barrels a day. So probably more than half is a result of market changes, a drop in oil prices has led to a shut down in production and less injection as a consequence.”

The question is what happens when oil prices go back up.

“I think it’s going to have to be a conversation with the companies, we’re going to have to monitor this together. It’s going to have to be a joint operation. We can’t afford to go back up that far,” he said.

Boak said if trends continue we will likely end this year with fewer earthquakes then last year but still more than 2014.