A recent editorial headlined “Central Kansans need answers about quakes” cast fact-challenged statements about the causes of earthquakes near Hutchinson.
Injecting fluid into rock formations in or near the basement granite is likely to increase risk for seismic activity. However, the editorial incorrectly implied that the fluid being injected was from the production of oil and gas.
Fortunately, the facts demonstrate something different. Injection of waste fluids from oil and gas production are not the likely cause. When examining data from earthquake epicenters along with the location of nearby injection wells, we start to see a different story.
The location of Class I injection wells (wells used to inject hazardous and non-hazardous industrial and municipal wastewater) were very near the earthquake epicenters. The nearest Class II injection wells (wells used to inject fluid associated with oil and gas production) were 6 miles or further away.
Moreover, Class I injection wells were injecting tens of thousands of barrels per day while the Class II wells were injecting hundreds of barrels per day.
Seismic activity in Kansas has dropped by 67% from 2015-2019.
All industries, including the oil and gas industry, take the issue of induced seismicity seriously and work to ensure that any study of induced seismicity is accurate, scientifically based and limited in scope to the site-specific features of the areas in question.
Ed Cross, Topeka