Corporation Commission Targets Rules Changes for Shutdown of Injection Wells

When the Oklahoma Corporation Commission holds a regular meeting on Wednesday, it will attempt to make rule changes resulting from the December 2015 decision by SandRidge Energy to fight the shutdown and reduction of operation of some of its wastewater disposal wells suspected of causing stronger earthquakes in northwestern Oklahoma.

The Commission has been in the process of amending some of its rules that fall under the Oklahoma Administrative Code. One of the biggest changes will be regarding the shutdown or “other action regarding a well.”

The Oil and Gas Conservation Division is proposing that objection to the shutdown of any disposal well will require the operator to submit in writing a request for a technical conference within five days of the date of the shut down notice or other Conservation Division action regarding the well.

“If an operator fails to timely submit a written request for a technical conference—such failure shall be deemed to constitute an agreement by the operator to the shutdown or other Conservation Division action regarding the well,” is how the Commission is proposing to amend the code. It will be up to the Conservation Division, under the proposed amendments to use a number of factors in allowing a well operator to resume operations. They include the mechanical integrity of the well for injection, and whether the permitted operation indicates that the cumulative effects of fluid injection on the environment are acceptable.

In the issue with SandRidge Energy, the company refused to go along with the Commission’s order to reduce operations in some of the company’s 48 wells in the region and to shut down others. But a month later, as the State prepared to take SandRidge Energy to court, the company reached agreement to go ahead with the removal of 7 wells from disposal operations and cut back operational volume on other wells. Four wells will be used as monitoring wells by the Oklahoma Geological Survey research project. The reduction took place Jan. 27.

The Commission’s public meeting will begin at 1:30 p.m.


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