ODESSA, Texas — Earthquakes have become more common in the Permian Basin over the last several months which is why the Railroad Commission and Permian Basin Petroleum Association ended deep water injections in an area known as the Gardendale Seismic Response Area.
There is some precedent to this from areas near Dallas and Ft. Worth to other places across the country where deep water injection occurred. The RRC believes that deep water injections might be a cause of the quakes.
The RRC and PBPA met with officials from Midland and Odessa to explain why ending deep water injections might be the best course of action to lessen the number of earthquakes.
"We’ve all felt some of the seismic events in recent months, and we’re all concerned about it. So we wanted to talk today and update the local officials about the actions the industry is taking as well as the Railroad Commission," Ben Shepperd, president of the PBPA said.
When drilling for oil, one of the by-products is a lot of water. Water can then be injected back into the ground either at shallow levels or deeper levels. The RRC believes those deeper injections, around 10,000 feet below the ground could be causing the earthquakes.
Now that companies in the Gardendale Seismic Response Area can't use deep water injections anymore, what's the plan for all the water? It's a question the industry is still looking into.
"The industry is focused on finding alternative uses for water. We’re really good at finding oil." Shepperd said. "We’re even better at finding this water, and we’re looking, investing heavily in alternative reuse and recycling efforts."
The RRC, PBPA, and local officials are all coming together to keep the oil and gas industry going, but they are also trying to reduce the number of earthquakes.
"If we just stop the injection without an alternative of where to redirect water, we could shut down the oil industry out here, which we can’t do that," Odessa mayor, Javier Joven, said.