The Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission (AOGC) planned to hold an emergency meeting Friday (March 4) to consider a staff request that injection of natural gas drilling waste be halted at two disposal wells while a potential connection to earthquakes in the region is considered.

One of the wells belongs to Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Operating Inc. and the other belongs to Little Rock, AR-based Clarita Operating LLC. Both are in Faulkner County, AR, in the Fayetteville Shale play. The companies are invited to make presentations at the meeting.

The area of Greenbriar and Guy, AR, has been experiencing a spate of small earthquakes since last summer. Last Sunday a 4.7-magnitude quake was felt in the region. That quake — the area’s largest in 35 years — increased concerns that drilling waste injection activities might be connected with the quakes (see Shale Daily, March 3). Among area disposal wells, the Chesapeake and Clarita disposal wells are said to be those closest to the quakes. Five other disposal wells are operating in the region, and they would not be affected.

Injections at the two wells could be stopped Friday until March 29, when the AOGC is to hold its next regular meeting. At that meeting AOGC staff may request further restrictions on the wells, AOGC said.

“We understand the concerns of citizens who reside in northern Faulkner County and respect the commission staff’s desire to address perceived issues associated with the seismic activity,” Chesapeake spokesman Danny Games said in a statement. “However, we remain very confident that an objective review of the facts and science do not support the proposed action. We have dedicated extensive resources and have consulted with several very qualified geophysicists and seismologists to better understand the science, including the natural seismicity of the area that long pre-dates our operations.”

A call to Clarita Thursday morning went unanswered.

The AOGC recently extended a moratorium on the drilling of new disposal wells in the Fayetteville by six months while it collects seismic data (see Shale Daily, Feb. 1). The moratorium is due to end July 28, the same day the findings of the study are expected to be taken up by the commission.