A class action lawsuit took aim at Oklahoma oil companies. The suit specifically blamed wastewater injection wells for increased earthquake activity. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission is the only state agency that regulates the oil and gas industry - our bread and butter.
“Everybody in Oklahoma admits that the oil and gas industry is the lifeblood of our state,” Attorney Billy Coyle said. “No one wants to see that go away. We also don't want our homes to come crumbling down.”
However, a class action lawsuit filed in Lincoln County claimed earthquakes caused by operations of wastewater disposal or injection wells damaged homes. It was filed on behalf of homeowners living in Lincoln, Payne, Logan, Oklahoma Cleveland, Pottawatomie, Seminole, Okfuskee and Creek Counties.
“All residents that have had a direct impact that in other words the epicenter of this earthquake was where damage was caused,” Coyle said.
The corporation commission just issued a letter to well operators. It said disposal well operators in areas of interest that inject into the Arbuckle Formation have until April 18 to prove that the disposal well is not disposing below the formation.
The Arbuckle Formation is the states deepest formation, and the areas of interest have had at least two quakes.
That letter goes on to state, "There is a broad agreement among seismologists that disposal below the Arbuckle poses a potential risk of causing earthquakes."
“If they are admitting or if they are coming to the conclusion that these disposal wells are responsible for the earthquakes, that would have a major impact on if they're going to shut down a couple of then,” Coyle said. “Then I think all Oklahoma citizens out there should be asking the question why only shut down a couple? Why not shut down all of them until we figure out if this is really causing the earthquakes?”
This applies to 347 of the approximately 900 Arbuckle disposal wells in Oklahoma.
The corporation commission has taken action on a number of wells as part of a risk management system supported by research.
They say their approach is on risk management and not causes.