State stops oil and gas wastewater well activity after earthquakes

DENVER – State regulators have halted activity at an oil and gas wastewater injection well in Weld County as officials try to determine whether the well is tied to nearby tremors.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission stopped wastewater injection activity in the well east of the Greeley-Weld County Airport operated by High Sierra Water Services this week. A representative of a marketing firm working for High Sierra did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

High Sierra agreed to a 20-day halt to wastewater injection as a cautionary step as the state gathers more information following two earthquakes in the Greeley area, according to the state oil commission. The move comes as University of Colorado scientists reported a 2.6-magnitude tremor Monday, June 23. A 3.4 magnitude earthquake shook Greeley May 31.
“In light of the findings of CU’s team, we think it’s important we review additional data, bring in additional expertise and closely review the history of injection at this site in order to more fully understand any potential link to seismicity and use of this disposal well,´ said state oil commission director Matt Lepore in a statement.

The state agency will work with the CU team as well as the U.S. Geological Survey and Colorado Geological Survey to study seismic activity in the area as well as examine injection rates, pressures and volumes of the High Sierra well.

The state oil commission regulates underground injection wells under authority from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Staff members analyze geologic factors in the wells before issuing permits.

The examination of the High Sierra well comes as Colorado joins a 10-state working group looking at earthquakes caused by disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing into wells thousands of feet underground.

Colorado officials plan to work with the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and the Groundwater Protection Council, both based in Oklahoma City, to study links between human-caused earthquakes and deep-well wastewater disposal. Read more.

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