Understanding Seismicity Associated with Saltwater Disposal Wells
The underground disposal of produced waters from oil and natural gas (O&G) operations has proven to be a safe and environmentally reliable means of managing this water. Currently, there are nearly 172,000 Class II Underground Injection Control (UIC) wells regulated by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Safe Drinking Water Act and delegated to 31 state agencies. These wells, used for salt water disposal, enhanced oil recovery, and hydrocarbon storage, serve a vital role by supporting the responsible and sustainable development of O&G resources. These O&G Class II UIC wells are a subset of the more than 800,000 permitted UIC wells nationwide which serve the needs of many different industries and governmental entities.
During the last few years, there has been an increase in earthquakes in the central United States, including areas where oil and natural gas operations and activity have experienced substantial growth. In response, state regulators have taken a range of actions to reduce potentially induced earthquakes. Industry, academia, and governmental entities have initiated research to better understand the science and mechanisms associated with the observed events.
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