Not only has Ohio Utica Shale production surged to unprecedented heights the past five years, the Buckeye State has established itself as a shining example of how to effectively manage and mitigate induced seismicity through extensive permitting and operating regulatory requirements.
Case in point: Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director Jim Zehringer recently told the Youngstown Vindicator that since 2011, “… we’ve had no felt [earthquake] events in [Ohio] injection wells.”
This is the direct result of Ohio’s proactive efforts to update rules aimed at reducing seismic risk since a handful of seismic events were linked to oil and gas activities five years ago. As Zehringer recently stated,
“We’ve done a lot since 2012 to make this an effective program, and I think what you see as a result of this is: You don’t see continued induced seismic activity.”
The lack of felt seismic activity over the past five years also confirms a recent statement by ODNR oil and gas chief Rick Simmers that injection wells are “a very safe way to dispose of the brine,” a consensus Ohio regulators share with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). And as result of Ohio’s effective regulatory measures, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) downgraded Ohio’s risk level from human-induced earthquakes last year.
A recent Vindicator editorial recognized this fact and applauded the state’s swift regulation of the oil and gas industry, stating,
“The state of Ohio has risen as a responsible national leader in implementing sensible regulations to minimize risks to public health and safety caused by human-induced quakes linked to drilling. Collectively, the new reforms go far toward establishing Ohio as a trailblazer among the states in its commitment to safe and responsible drilling. That distinction is evidenced by the lack of quakes induced by fracking or injection wells in the Buckeye State.”
This acknowledgement by the Vindicator is also evidence of how the vast majority of Ohioans feels about the oil and natural gas industry — that we can develop our natural resources while protecting the environment and health and safety of our community through safe and responsible drilling.
The bottom line is that even with record-breaking oil and natural gas production — and a significant increase in disposal of wastewater as a result — the state has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that, if properly regulated, the risk of felt earthquakes can be mitigated, despite what anti-fracking activists would lead you to believe.
In Ohio, we continue to evolve our regulatory system to keep pace with industry activity, with mitigation measures to minimize seismic activity being just one example.