Earthquakes in U.S. Shale Patch Have Quadrupled Since 2017, Says Study
West Texas and SE New Mexico are a part of the U.S. Shale Patch and the number of earthquakes here in our area have also quadrupled.
According to the Midland Reporter-Telegram, the U.S. Shale Patch covers Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Louisiana and in that area, earthquakes registering a 2 or greater on the Richter scale numbered 938 last year.
We are expected to increase that number this year says Rystad Energy after their analysis of the area.
Earthquakes in the area are blamed on activity related to shale production and have been for years.
Last year's increase in 2 or greater measured earthquakes happened even as oil production almost came to a screeching halt.
Water disposal into wells increased over the past decade which would make the ground more unstable.
The increase in earthquakes and increased wastewater into wells have made the concerns grow about the environment surrounding oil and gas production.
“Earthquakes are not the only environmental issue caused by water disposal,” said Ryan Hassler, an analyst at Rystad in a report. “Fresh water sourcing in arid regions of West Texas and New Mexico threaten the water supply of local communities and essential agriculture activities, while environmental concerns surrounding the chemical composition of produced water serve only to fan the flames of public antipathy.”
The tremors in shale fields can also be contributed to fracking or blasting rock to release oil and gas which helps to make the ground more unstable and especially if it is along a geological fault line which can eventually cause a bigger seismic event.
So it looks like our seismic activity in the area is going to continue for now.