Regulators close wells, reduce volumes after earthquake

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PAWNEE, Okla. (AP) – Oil and natural gas regulators in Oklahoma are ordering the operators of 70 disposal wells to either shut them down or reduce disposal volumes after a 4.5 magnitude earthquake shook northern Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission said Thursday the new guidelines affect 38 disposal wells within 15 miles of the quake’s epicenter that are under its jurisdiction and another 32 wells under the sole jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The earthquake was recorded Tuesday night in the Pawnee area, where a record-setting 5.8 magnitude quake struck two months ago. The commission says 15 wells included in its latest directive were ordered closed following the Sept. 3 quake.

Scientists have linked Oklahoma’s increase in earthquakes to the underground disposal of wastewater from oil and gas production.