June 24 Disposal of wastewater from oil and gas
drilling into a Colorado well was ordered halted this week after
seismic activity was detected in the area, state regulators said
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission ordered
High Sierra Water Services to stop disposing wastewater for 20
days into the well in Weld County after seismologists detected a
small 2.6-magnitude temblor on Monday. That came after a
3.4-magnitude earthquake shook the area on May 31.
It is the latest in a string of events linking oil and gas
operations with seismic activity in the United States as energy
drilling increases, but likely the first instance of its kind in
quake-prone Colorado, a spokesman for COGCC said.
"We believe it is probably the first time," that seismic
activity has been linked to wastewater disposal, he said.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is an increasingly common
oil and gas production technique that involves pumping millions
of gallons of water underground to release oil and gas. Much of
that water comes back to the surface after drilling and is
disposed of in large underground wells.
There were about 145,000 of these wells in the United States
in 2012 and 309 in Colorado, according to the Colorado
Both fracking and wastewater disposal have been linked to
increased seismic activity in states where energy production is
on the rise.
Recent small earthquakes in Ohio were likely triggered by
fracking, state regulators said in April, establishing a new
link that went beyond just the impacts of disposal wells.
According to a Colorado Geological Survey report from 2012,
Colorado is "world famous" for triggered, or induced,
earthquakes. Nearly 200 quakes with magnitude 2.8 to 3.4 were
recorded between 2007 and 2009 in the Paonia area, largely due
to coal mining activity, the CGS said.
(Reporting by Edward McAllister; Editing by Eric Walsh)