Oklahoma

Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: Policy to People

As Authorities Use Permit Process to Scrutinize Wells in Earthquake Country, Oil Industry Remains Silent

Oil-field workers tend to American Energy-Woodford's Judge South well in November 2014 well shortly after the Oklahoma Corporation Commission ordered it temporarily shut-in.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oil-field workers in November 2014 tending to American Energy-Woodford's Judge South well near Perkins, Okla., shortly after the Oklahoma Corporation Commission ordered it temporarily shut-in.

As earthquakes continue to rattle Oklahoma and scientists study links to oil and gas production, many Oklahomans want to know what, if anything, is being done to address the shaking.

An investigation by StateImpact shows that while authorities are quietly scrutinizing wells in quake-prone parts of the state, most of the companies that operate the wells are staying silent.

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“Kansas Geological Survey Links Earthquakes to Fracking Waste Disposal”

Waste fluid disposal from oil and gas operations “could be to blame for a sharp increase in earthquakes in south-central Kansas, according to a geophysicist with the Kansas Geological Survey,” the AP reports.


Rex Buchanan, director of the Kansas Geological Survey, stressed that it is likely disposal of the waste water, not the fracking itself, which causes seismic movement. “If someone were to say these earthquakes were caused by fracking, there might be one or two, but there is no evidence for it,” Buchanan said. “The issue of saltwater disposal is completely different.”

Read more at: www.kansas.com

Drought-Stricken Oklahoma Communities Dealing With Prospect of Dead Lakes

Will Archer, manager of the Mountain Park Master Conservancy District, at the Tom Steed Reservoir dam.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Will Archer, manager of the Mountain Park Master Conservancy District, at the Tom Steed Reservoir dam.

Most of western Oklahoma is in its fifth year of drought with still no end in sight, despite a wetter-than-normal-end to 2014.  And many of the lakes communities rely on for drinking water are now on the verge of being too low to use. The situation is most dire in Altus, Duncan and Canton.

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Oklahoma Earthquake Rate is High, But Holding Steady

A panel of state geological surveys and oil and gas regulators at the National Seismic Hazard Workshop on Induced Seismicity, held in November at a conference center in Midwest City, Okla.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A panel of state geological surveys and oil and gas regulators at the National Seismic Hazard Workshop on Induced Seismicity, held in November at a conference center in Midwest City, Okla.

Oklahoma experienced more earthquakes than California in 2014, but the rate and severity of the shaking “has held relatively flat over the past 12 months,” The Oklahoman’s Adam Wilmoth reports.

“It looks like we’re at about the same rate now as we were last year at this point,” Oklahoma Geological Society seismologist Austin Holland said. “We’re continuing to see a high rate, but it looks like a steady rate at this point.”

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Engineering Students at Oklahoma Universities Anxious About Low Oil Prices

The price of crude oil has plummeted below $50 a barrel, and while there are varying opinions and analyses on whether the downturn will be short slump or a long slog, students in Oklahoma who are enrolled in engineering disciplines are starting to worry that low oil prices could affect their future job prospects.

Students in petroleum, chemical and mechanical engineering disciplines at both the University of Oklahoma and the University of Tulsa are among those expressing concern, The Journal Record‘s D. Ray Tuttle reports: Continue Reading

“‘Kings When It’s Good:’ Oklahoma Braces For Possible Crude Crash”

NPR’s “Morning Edition” aired a version of our piece on how low oil prices are spurring economic worries in Oklahoma.


Fallin and other lawmakers are warning state agencies that low oil prices could stall the state economy. The crash could deepen a $300 million state budget gap. “The oil and gas industry is by far the largest single source of tax revenue to the state,” says Mark Snead, an economist and president of RegionTrack, which provides economic forecasting for state finance officials. He’s telling lawmakers to build their budget with $60-a-barrel oil in mind.

Read more at: www.npr.org

Oil-field Workers and Economists in Oklahoma Hope Crashing Crude Prices are a Blip, Not a Bust

Chad Igo owns Pecan Creek Catering, which delievers food to workers in the oil patch.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Chad Igo owns Pecan Creek Catering in New Cordell, Okla., which delievers food to workers in the oil patch.

The sign on the front door says “closed,” but Pecan Creek Catering in New Cordell, Okla., is open for business. Out back, a tractor-trailer is being unloaded. Giant cans of green beans, tomatoes and mushrooms are hauled inside, where they’re sorted and stacked on metal shelves.

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“Shaken More Than 560 times, Okla. is Top State for Quakes in 2014″

Oklahoma’s five-fold surge of earthquakes in 2014 made it the most seismically state in the Lower 48, EnergyWire reports


The Sooner State was shaken by 564 quakes of magnitude 3 and larger, compared with only 100 in 2013, according to an EnergyWire analysis of federal earthquake data. California, which is twice the size of Oklahoma, had fewer than half as many quakes. Researchers and many people in the state believe the quakes are linked to oil and gas activity, namely deep-underground disposal of drilling waste fluid.

Read more at: www.eenews.net

Duncan Bans All Outdoor Watering as Waurika Lake Levels Continue to Fall

The December 30, 2014 update of the U.S. Drought Monitor for Oklahoma.

U.S. Drought Monitor

The December 30, 2014 update of the U.S. Drought Monitor for Oklahoma.

The drought in southwest Oklahoma has lingered for more than four years now, and it will take more than a wet end to 2014 to stop it — a lot more.

Despite receiving above average December precipitation, the City of Duncan will ban all outdoor watering beginning next week. That’s because water levels in Waurika Lake, Duncan’s only current drinking water source, continue to drop. Continue Reading

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