Groundwater

Oral

395291 - Induced Seismicity Associated with Oil and Gas Operations

Wednesday, June 6
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Lakeshore B
Co-Authors: Nelka Wijesinghe, The Woodlands, Texas – Houston Advanced Research Center

Earthquakes caused by human activity, or induced seismicity, is an increasing concern in some regions of the United States. Areas of the central and eastern United States have experienced an elevated level of M ≥ 3 earthquake clusters over the past nine years. Particularly in areas where tectonic seismic activity is uncommon and energy development is ongoing, induced seismicity can be disturbing and raises concern. Scientists have compelling evidence that the seismicity in many of these locations is correlated with the deep injection of produced water from nearby oil and gas operations. Fluid is injected during hydraulic fracturing, wastewater disposal, and enhanced oil recovery. Disposal injection wells operate over a long period of time and large areas, resulting in prolonged elevated fluid pressure. A small percentage of disposal wells seem to be associated with clusters of earthquakes, typically small to moderate in strength. Earthquakes associated with disposal wells are not necessarily limited in time and space to injection operations. The area of potential influence from injection wells may extend over several square miles, with earthquakes triggered more than ten miles away, and continue for months after injection. Therefore, quickly and accurately detecting seismicity associated with produced water injection for oil and gas operations is key to avoiding costly shutdowns and damage to nearby property. Developing reliable tools for hazard assessment that may be undertaken before or after operations begin is of high value, especially in this current climate of tightening regulations.

Carolyn J. LaFleur, PE, M.ASCE

Research Scientist
Houston Advanced Research Center

Presentation(s):

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Nelka Wijesinghe, PhD

Post-Doctoral Research Associate
Houston Advanced Research Center

Presentation(s):

Send Email for Nelka Wijesinghe


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