Commission orders new disposal limits for 654 Oklahoma wells

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has issued a new order limiting future increases in the volume of oil and natural gas wastewater injected into the ground in an effort to reduce the number of earthquakes in the state.

The commission’s Oil and Gas Conservation Division issued the directive Friday for 654 disposal wells in a wide swath of northern Oklahoma.

Division director Tim Baker says the directive is intended to prevent sudden, sharp increases in disposal volumes. Underground disposal of wastewater has been linked to an increase in earthquakes in Oklahoma in recent years.

Oklahoma Geological Survey data says the number of magnitude 2.7 and stronger earthquakes has dropped from an average of 5.4 per day in 2015 to 3.6 per day last year to 1.4 per day so far in 2017.