July 25, 2019 / 10:12 PM / 5 months ago

Encana halts Oklahoma well completion following quake

(Reuters) - Oil and gas producer Encana Corp halted work at a drill site in northwest Oklahoma following two earthquakes within a day in the same area, the state’s oil and gas regulator said on Thursday.

The company paused operations for 12 hours after a 3.2 magnitude quake hit late Wednesday in Kingfisher, a county about 50 miles (80 km) northwest of Oklahoma City. A second quake measured at a 3.9 magnitude struck while operations were paused, prompting the company to stop activity at the well.

A spokesperson for Encana did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Several years ago, Oklahoma suffered a spike in earthquakes that authorities tied to the underground disposal of saltwater, a byproduct of oil and gas production. Some earthquakes, such as the two that occurred on Wednesday, may be linked to well completion activities, authorities have said.

Limits on disposal wells adopted by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) and oil companies have reduced the frequency of those temblors, with the state experiencing less than one earthquake of magnitude 3.0 or higher per day on average this year, compared with more than two a day of the same strength in 2015.

Last year, the state regulator developed a protocol to address earthquakes that could be linked to well completion activity.

The Induced Seismicity Department of the OCC said it held a meeting with the company on Thursday to discuss mitigation measures following the quake.

Reporting by Liz Hampton; Editing by Leslie Adler

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