State allows injection well tied to quakes to resume activity, with new restrictions

The state of Colorado has ordered NGL Water Solutions DJ LLC to make changes to a well used by the company to inject oil and gas wastewater deep underground due to earthquake activity.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission also said it is investigating NGL on a possible permit violation related to the volume of wastewater injected by the company. NGL Water Solutions could face fines if the agency determines the company violated the permit.

The state oil commission directed NGL Water Solutions to temporarily stop disposing wastewater in the well east of the Greeley-Weld County Airport on June 23 after an earthquake of 2.6 magnitude and other small earthquakes occurred near Greeley. Another 3.2 magnitude earthquake occurred in Greeley May 31.

At the time, the state agency incorrectly identified another company as the operator of the well.

Doug White, senior vice president of NGL Water Solutions, declined to comment.
Since the shutdown, earthquake activity in the area around the well continued but it occurred at a lower level, according to researchers with the University of Colorado at Boulder monitoring the earthquake activity.

NGL will be able to resume wastewater injection in the well Friday, though at lower pressures and lower volumes and under an earthquake monitoring system to ensure the facility is operating safely.

NGL can inject a maximum rate of 5,000 barrels of wastewater daily with a maximum pressure of just over 1,500 pounds per square inch. After 20 days, the company can increase its injection rate to 7,500 barrels per day at the same pressure.

If tremors of at least 2.5 in magnitude occur within a 2.5-mile radius surrounding the well, the state oil commission may halt the well’s operations again. CU earthquake scientists will continue to monitor the area.

“We are proceeding with great care, and will be tracking activities at this site closely,” said Matt Lepore, state oil commission director, in the statement. “We’re moving slowly and deliberately as we determine the right course for this location.

The state oil commission granted the permit for the well in March last year. Wastewater injection began in April last year.

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