Drillers Halted Over Quake Questions

Two natural gas drilling companies will stop operations at injection wells in Faulkner County — at least temporarily.

The Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission called a meeting to consider an emergency halt to work at the sites:

“Notice is hereby given that the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission will consider an
emergency application from Staff  … requiring Chesapeake Operating, Inc. to immediately cease all injection operations in its SRE 8-12 1-17 SWD Well … and Clarita Operating LLC … in its Wayne L. Edgemon No. 1 SWD Well … through the last day of the regularly scheduled AOGC hearing in March. At the regularly scheduled AOGC hearing in March, Staff may file an application requesting further relief from the Commission.”

Why? The injection wells could be behind the rash of earthquake activity in the area. About 800 quakes have hit the Greenbrier and Guy areas since September. The strongest was a 4.7 magintude on Sunday (Feb. 27). Scott Ausbrooks of Arkansas Geological Survey told the Associated Press the quake “swarms” could be naturally occurring, but they could also be the result of natural gas drilling.

The Oil and Gas Commission is looking specifically at injection wells to see if there’s a connection with the quakes. Naturally, the drilling companies deny there is a correlation but did voluntarily agree to stop work before the emergency session — at least until the Commission’s next regular meeting on March 29.

If that wasn’t bad enough, many injection wells now use a controversial form of the procedure known as hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracking, which environmental critics have argued may pose hazards to ground water and more.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZe1AeH0Qz8[/youtube]

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