Regulators direct shutdown of disposal wells near 5.1 magnitude earthquake site

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The Oklahoma Corporation Commission took action on Saturday regarding oil and gas operations that may have played a role in the Friday earthquake that measure 5.1 magnitude and was felt in four other states.

The epicenter was several miles northwest of Prague and at a depth of about 1.8 miles below the surface. The U.S. Geological Survey said residents in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Texas felt the quake when it struck around 11:20 p.m. on Friday.

The Oklahoma Geological Survey recorded the quake at 11:24 p..m. and had a depth just under 2 miles. Several smaller quakes, some as strong as 3.5 magnitude occurred afterward.

In a statement provided Saturday, the Commission’s Oil and Gas Conservation Division issued a directive for a change in the operations of some oil and gas wastewater disposal wells. In the past, the disposal wells were blamed for causing some of the state’s earthquakes.

All disposal wells that are permitted to dispose into the Arbuckle formation and are in an area within 10 miles of the February 3, 2024 5.1 magnitude earthquake are directed to begin the shutdown of operations, with a shutdown to be complete by February 17. The gradual shutdown process is necessary to avoid sudden pressure changes that could result in more seismic activity.

The Arbuckle formation is the state’s deepest formation. Oil and gas wastewater disposal into the Arbuckle formation has been linked to seismic activity in parts of the state.

The Commission stated that it should be stressed that that this action is an initial response. Further study may result in new directives.

Jake Walter, Oklahoma Seismologist expected more aftershocks in the following days. Reports indicated the 5.1 magnitude quake was on the same fault line as a 2011 quake in Prague and it measured 5.7 magnidue.

KOCO TV News reported one TV personality who happened to be in Oklahoma and experienced the quake took to her social media account. It was Nicole Polizzi, known as “Snooki” from Jersey Shore.

“Anybody else in Oklahoma?! I need to get back to Jersey,” Polizza posted on the social media platform X.

Just last month, central Oklahoma was shaken by two earthquakes that measured more than 4.0 magnitude. They were near Arcadia and Edmond