Regulators allow Repsol to resume fracking after Alberta quake

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Regulators have given Repsol Oil and Gas Canada the green light to resume hydraulic fracking at a remote well in Alberta nearly three months after the region was rocked by an earthquake linked to the fracking, the company said on Thursday.

The company, a unit of Spanish energy firm Repsol S.A., said in a statement that it had received Alberta Energy Regulator’s approval to conduct modified flowback operations with reduced rates of pressure at the well.

Repsol had suspended operations after a 4.8 magnitude quake on Jan. 12 occurred 18 km (11 miles) north of the town of Fox Creek. It was the largest earthquake in the area in more than a year.

The company was conducting hydraulic fracturing at the time at its site 30 km from Fox Creek. An investigation by the Alberta Energy Regulator concluded with “high confidence” that the quake had been caused by fracking, the regulatory agency’s spokesman Riley Bender said by telephone.

Fracking involves injecting water, sand and chemicals deep underground to break up rock formations.

The renewed work will begin after spring breakup, the period between April and July when the ground in Alberta thaws, and will last one to three weeks, Repsol said.

Once flowback work is done the well pad will start producing oil and gas and Repsol has no further drilling or hydraulic fracturing planned this year, spokeswoman Berta Gomez said.

Editing by Fiona Ortiz