Some critics of oil and gas in Oklahoma used to describe the wastewater injection well operations and the earthquakes they might have caused as a ‘nightmare’.
Now it’s the word used to describe what’s happening in the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico.
As the nation’s largest oil play with nearly 485 rigs actively looking for oil, the Permian has also become a problem for disposing of the massive amounts of saltwater and chemicals used to find the crude oil.
According to those who spoke with the Dallas Morning News, it’s a problem that’s only going to get bigger and bigger. Every time an oil well is drilled, an injection well is likely to be drilled to handle the wastewater.
And guess what’s happening, just like in Oklahoma? The number of earthquakes in the Permian is on the increase. Here’s how the Morning News reported it:
In the San Andres, wells sunk to gather oil deeper within the play are collapsing as a result of the increased pressure from water injections, causing dozens to be closed and the loss of miles of pipe, according to Andrew Hunter, a drilling engineer at Blackstone Energy Partners-backed Guidon Energy.
It’s a situation that’s “getting worse,” Hunter said at a recent conference on water held in Houston. “I think people are afraid to talk about this problem. We’re trying to get the word out to let everyone know how serious this is.”
At the same time, earthquakes in parts of West Texas and New Mexico that include the Permian have more than tripled to 62 with at least a 2.5 magnitude in the past year, from just six two years earlier, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That’s data environmentalists are quick to blame on the injections, pointing to studies on similar activity in Oklahoma.