Oklahoma Corporation Commission

A Devon Energy disposal well near Stillwater, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission in March ordered the operators of nearly 350 disposal wells to prove their operations weren’t allowing waste fluid to be pumped into a rock formation known to produce earthquakes.

The Corporation Commission has not provided comprehensive records or data related to the operators’ responses to the March directives despite multiple requests by StateImpact. Today, the commission issued a statement that provides a snapshot of the industry’s response to the directives:

Disposal wells used by the oil and gas industry are ‘very likely’ responsible for the recent surge of earthquakes in Oklahoma, the state seismologist at the Oklahoma Geological Survey said Tuesday.

An American Energy Woodford well near Perkins, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

As earthquakes continue to surge in Oklahoma and seismologists warn of more frequent and more damaging shaking, the state’s oil and gas regulator is issuing new orders to companies operating wells in seismically active regions of the state.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s new requirements, known as directives, were mailed March 18 to 92 people or companies operating 347 Arbuckle formation disposal wells in quake-prone regions of the state.

Oklahoma Gas & Electric's coal-fired Sooner Plant in Red Rock, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

For the past several weeks the Oklahoma Corporation Commission has heard from attorneys for Oklahoma Gas & Electric regarding the utility’s request for approval to spend $1.1 billion.

Oklahoma Gas & Electric's coal-fired Sooner Plant in Red Rock, Okla.
StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma Gas and Electric — the state’s largest utility — and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt fought the EPA’s new Clean Air Act regulations for years before being left with no choice but to comply.

Oklahoma’s surge in earthquakes and possible links to oil and gas activity has led regulators to scrutinize permits for disposal well operators in quake-prone regions of the state.

Oil-field workers in November 2014 tending to American Energy-Woodford's Judge South well near Perkins, Okla., shortly after the Oklahoma Corporation Commission ordered it temporarily shut-in.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

As earthquakes continue to rattle Oklahoma and scientists study links to oil and gas production, many Oklahomans want to know what, if anything, is being done to address the shaking.

An investigation by StateImpact shows that while authorities are quietly scrutinizing wells in quake-prone parts of the state, most of the companies that operate the wells are staying silent.

Oklahoma Corporation Commission Chairman Bob Anthony
Oklahoma Corporation Commission

A member of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission will temporarily serve as the agency's director of administration.

Commissioner Bob Anthony says he'll take on the additional duties until the commission completes its transition.

Anthony says Commissioner-elect Todd Hiett takes office on Jan. 12 and will help the three-member commission find the most qualified candidate to permanently fill the position.

Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater, questions Secretary of Energy and Environment Michael Teague at an interim study and hearing about earthquakes and disposal well oversight held in October 2014.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s earthquake surge is unrelenting. The shaking is rattling residents and cracking the foundations of homes.

The quakes have also strained state agencies, which are struggling to keep up with the ongoing swarm while simultaneously developing a longer-term plan to analyze and address factors that might be triggering the earthquakes.

'Meaningful Action'

well site
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

State lawmakers on Tuesday questioned regulators, academics and anti-fracking activists at a capitol hearing examining Oklahoma’s surge of earthquakes. The interim House study centered on oversight of injection wells, which scientists have linked to the quakes.

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