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Railroad Commission updates regulations after record breaking earthquake

"The quakes are getting bigger and worse and they want them to stop, so this will be a great first step for that to happen."

ODESSA, Texas — Its been almost a month since the 5.4 magnitude earthquake hit Reeves County and we've been waiting on the Railroad Commission to see what action they are taking to prevent a earthquake especially of this magnitude from happening again. 

Tuesday they released new regulations on how they plan to combat the earthquakes.

"The Railroad Commission has set up these seismic response areas, one was here in Gardendale between Midland and Odessa, one's near Stanton but there's a big one near where the earthquake happened just before Thanksgiving near Culberson and Reeves County which is just north of Pecos," said Kirk Edwards, former Permian Basin Petroleum Association Chairman.

The record breaking 5.4 magnitude earthquake even shook San Antonio, and now the Railroad Commission is making adjustments to their plan to reduce earthquakes, extending it into Culberson and Reeves County.

"They're really cracking down on the 80 disposable wells out there and they've raised that area another 200 square miles so that's going to be almost like 2600 square miles covering out there," said Edwards.

In a statement from the Railroad Commission they wrote, "The SRA boundary is being expanded northward to the New Mexico border, which will increase the size of the SRA from 2,366 square miles to 2,601 square miles. There are 78 active disposal wells in the revised SRA."

They are also revising how much water can be injected into disposal wells which is a biproduct of fracking.

"Operators of deep disposal wells in the Revised Response Plan have agreed to reduce the collective volume of disposal from the original target of 298,000 barrels per day by June 30, 2023 to 162,000 barrels per day by that date. This would be about a 68% drop in disposal volume compared to January 2022 before the plan went into effect," wrote the Railroad Commission."

Edwards believes this is a step in the right direction.

"The quakes are getting bigger and worse and they want them to stop, so this will be a great first step for that to happen."

As for the industry, Edwards thinks its in everybody's best interest to find solutions for produced water.

"Earthquakes are one of the black eyes along with flaring that happens from drilling of wells and disposing of water in the earth out here, it's something we've got to address because we have too many people, too much industry relying on the drilling rigs running. And oil and gas is just needed in this country, we just have to figure out a way to dispose of the water and I think we're smart minds out here, we're a smart industry and they're going to have to come up with a bigger solution ahead. It's just going to take a lot of collaboration and a lot of impetus from the state and the government and the oil and gas industry to make that happen," said Edwards.

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