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Oklahoma Lawmaker to Hold Public Forum Friday on Earthquakes

A state lawmaker in Oklahoma plans to hold a public forum Friday that will include comments from geologists on ongoing seismic activity in the state, as regulators prepare a response to two large earthquakes that struck last week.

State Rep. Richard Morrissette (D-Oklahoma City) will host a public forum at the Oklahoma State Capitol on Friday morning.

Jacklyn Brink-Rosen, a spokeswoman for Morrissette, told NGI's Shale Daily on Monday that about six or seven geologists, or persons who could comment on the ongoing seismic activity, "will give opening remarks, and the public will also be given a chance to tell their side of the story, to talk about any damage that's been caused [by the earthquakes]. There will be some presentations by the geologists interspersed with the public comments."

Last week, nearly 30 earthquakes struck Oklahoma over an 18-hour period from Wednesday night through Thursday afternoon, including two that measured 4.4 and 4.8 in magnitude on the Richter scale that hit 30 seconds apart, and a third that measured 4.0 (see Shale DailyJan. 7).

According to data from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), seven earthquakes at least 2.5 in magnitude on the Richter scale hit Oklahoma from Sunday evening through Monday afternoon. The strongest was a 3.7-magnitude temblor that struck 16.8 miles northwest of Fairview on Sunday.

Since March 2015, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission's (OCC) Oil and Gas Conservation Division (OGCD) has been ordering operators of injection wells, which handle wastewater from oil and gas operations, to either shut down or curtail intake volumes. Scientists with Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS) attribute the increase in seismic activity to injection wells targeting the Arbuckle Formation, which closely overlies the crystalline basement (see Shale DailyApril 22, 2015April 2, 2015). The OGS said the disposal of extremely salty water -- a byproduct of oil and gas production, not the mostly freshwater used for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) -- is responsible for the quakes (see Shale DailyJan. 5).

OCC spokesman Matt Skinner said Monday that the OGCD was working on a new directive in response to last week's earthquakes.

Michael McNutt, press secretary for Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, added Monday that the OCC and Michael Teague, the state Secretary of Energy & Environment, "are actively working on this issue and there is no need for the governor to intervene at this time. The governor is closely monitoring the situation."

Last November, Fallin created a fact-finding work group to find ways for produced water to be recycled or reused, rather than injecting it into underground disposal wells.

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