Ohio looks into whether fracking led to earthquakes

  • Marie Cusick

Officials in Ohio are looking into whether fracking operations may have led to earthquakes.
Links between oil and gas production and increased earthquake activity have usually been related to disposal of wastewater in deep injection wells–not the fracking process itself.
From the New York Times:

The State Department of Natural Resources ordered work halted at the well and six others in Poland Township, near the Pennsylvania border, on Monday after the two earthquakes earlier in the day. The quakes, of magnitude 2.6 and 3.0, caused no damage or injuries but were felt in nearby towns.

The department said it acted “out of an abundance of caution” to suspend the operation by Hilcorp Energy, a large independent oil and gas producer based in Houston. It is the only such operator in the area, which is about 15 miles southeast of Youngstown.

Mark Bruce, a spokesman for the department, said it was too early to determine whether drilling operations induced the earthquakes. “What we’re focusing on now is getting all the data from the company,” he said. “We’ll examine it first and decide next steps after that.”…

Hilcorp Energy said it was cooperating with the state investigation. “We are not aware of any evidence to connect our operations to these events,” the company said in a statement, pointing out that other wells had been drilled in the Utica shale in Ohio in recent years without a problem.

StateImpact Oklahoma recently reported on research published this month, showing wastewater disposal may have triggered the state’s largest earthquake ever recorded– a 5.7-magnitude quake which injured two people and damaged more than a dozen homes in 2011.Texas has also seen a rapid increase in earthquakes since its shale gas boom began, which scientists have linked to wastewater disposal wells.

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