A recent study on fracking causing earthquakes in the Fox Creek region completed by some of the top researchers on the issue, is pointing toward the process of fracking and not waste water disposal, being tied to seismic activity.
As I’ve mentioned previously, actual fracking can be tied to seismic activity in very rare cases. But, it looks like some media sources are skewing the story once again.
The truth is that it’s not really a surprise that earthquakes are tied to fracking in this case because the region is highly faulted. A fault is a crack in the Earth’s crust that can be active and can cause earthquakes. In the case of Fox Creek, these faults are being reactivated by the activity of fracking.
The researchers say that 0.3% of the 12,000 fracked wells studied are associated with seismicity due to the process of fracking. The real surprise is that it was thought that the geology was understood and that faults were well known in the area. Therefore, more attention needs to be paid in finding the signatures of faults that are critically stressed.
The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), who are essentially the oil and gas industry police in the province already had regulations in place for the rock that is being fracked near Fox Creek. Subsurface Order 2 covers several stipulations that industry must adhere to, including seismic events that are higher than 4.0 in magnitude – which is still considered to be a minor event. But this event still caused public fear because the story was sensationalized.
The Alberta oil and gas industry is highly regulated. And now, as a result of new information, the AER has amended these rules and fracking has been given the go ahead again in the region. This means it’s considered safe, so there’s really no reason to panic.