Earthquakes in the Lower 48 oil and natural gas patch have been steadily increasing over the last four years and will continue to do so if the industry doesn’t adjust its methods for disposing of produced water, according to new analysis by Rystad Energy.

The Oslo-based consultancy examined seismic activity in Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Researchers found that tremors registering above 2 on the Richter scale totaled 242 in 2017, 491 in 2018, 686 in 2019 and 938 in 2020. In other words, the frequency of the seismic events quadrupled over a four-year span.

So far in 2021, about 570 of these tremors have been recorded, meaning this year could see another record amount of quakes, researchers said. 

“The trend appears to be moving not only to more frequent,...