The number of earthquakes in the Permian Basin is declining, according to research scientist Peter Hennings from University of Texas. Dr. Hennings was featured luncheon speaker April 4 in Midland at the national technical conference of the American Association of Drilling Engineers. “Operators and regulators are adapting – using data and trends successfully,” he said. They are moving water disposal to areas less susceptible to seismicity. Dr. Hennings is principal investigator in the Center for Integrated Seismicity Research at the UT Bureau of Economic Geology.
Theme of the two-day AADE conference at Bush Convention Center was “Innovating to Secure America’s Energy Future.” Mitchell Gipson of Reliance Energy is president of the Permian Basin chapter of AADE.
Earthquakes reached a maximum over the last 12 to 14 months, he said, but “have been decreasing since then.” U.S. Geological Survey reported at least 200 earthquakes a year in Permian Basin. Dr. Hennings said EarthquakeTrack.com reported 187 earthquakes in Permian in the past year. “We will never be able to mitigate to zero,” he told Midland Reporter Telegram. “Our goal should be to mitigate the earthquakes that matter – the ones people experience. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Dr. Jennings said conventional hydrocarbon development, including water injection, has contributed to earthquakes, and unconventional development with horizontal drilling and completion activity touching faults have caused earthquakes in Eagle Ford in south Texas and west Texas’ Delaware Basin, which he said has the most active fault systems in the state.