Wastewater Disposal to Continue in Texas

Karnes Co. Landowners Lose this Round Against Sable
Eagle Ford Injection Wells

Eagle Ford Disposal Well Map | Click to Enlarge

Landowner rights in Eagle Ford took another hit last week when Judge Russell Wilson denied a request to stop the further development of an underground wastewater disposal facility.

Sable Environmental, LLC obtained a permit from the Texas Railroad Commission (TRC) to store 20,000-25,000 barrels of wastewater underground in Karnes County, and the decision immediately drew fire from local landowners who are fearful that the water will contaminate their property. After banding together, they filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to stop the company from proceeding. Judge Wilson denied the request on January 14th, choosing instead to wait on a decision in a similar case before the Texas Supreme Court that will set a precedent for future cases of this nature.

Attorney, Clinton Butler, commented in the San Antonio Business Journal that, “As the Eagle Ford Shale continues its development, I think that we are going to see more and more instances in which the rights of the property owners are going to collide with oil and gas industry’s operations. While property owners should consider the needs of the industry in their decision making, the industry needs to respect the rights that landowners have in their property when conducting their operations. Finding that balance is going to be crucial for the long-term success of the Eagle Ford Shale.”

Wasterwater disposal has become a hot topic as hydraulic fracturing has increased over the last few years. After drilling, the wastewater is cleaned and then pumped deep into injection wells. The potential risks of this practice are still unknown but are commonly connected to increased earthquakes, water contamination and danger to the ecosystem.

Related: New Texas Wastewater Disposal Rules

Related: Eagle Ford Disposal Wells

Read more at the bizjournals.com

Eagle Ford Earthquake – Video

3.2 Magnitude Quake Recorded Two Miles Southeast of Charlotte, TX in Atascosa County

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) confirmed a 3.2 magnitude earthquake on Wednesday, two miles southeast of Charlotte, TX in Atascosa County, which is almost entirely in the liquids-rich or oil window of the Eagle Ford Shale. Last week, 13 active rigs were running in the area.

According to the USGS, there is evidence that some central and eastern North American earthquakes have been triggered or caused by human activities that have altered the stress conditions in earth’s crust. The cause of this most recent quake is unknown; however, in the Eagle Ford Shale and other areas for oil & gas development in Texas, a link has been made between waste water disposal/injection wells and seismic activity.

Injection wells are necessary to the fracking process, a method by which a well is completed using treated water under extreme pressure. When a well is fracked, it produces flowback or produced water that must be disposed of properly in waste water disposal/injection wells deep underground. Recently, EagleFordShale.com posted a story about new waste water disposal rules that could be put into practice soon in Texas, following a rash of low magnitude earthquakes across the state.

Read more: Could New Waste Water Disposal Rules be Coming in Texas?

EagleFordShale.com Founder Kenny DuBose, said, “there are two primary ways in which the oil and gas industry commonly “ads” energy (pressure) into the ground. That is through hydraulic fracturing and water injection. The industry “subtracts” energy from the ground by producing hydrocarbons and the associated water that generally comes with it. These two forces are constantly opposing and offsetting each other. On a localized basis, at any given point in time, it is possible that the net result of these two forces is great enough (in either direction) to cause small and local trimmers. No doubt many of these are of such short duration and so small that they are never even noticed. Then there are some that make it to the observable and measurable threshold. Local and hyperlocal geology will generally determine the susceptibility of a particular area to these trimmers.”

KABB, the Fox affiliate in San Antonio, ran a story yesterday about the quake that occurred this week. Click on the video below to see their report:

Could New Waste Water Disposal Rules be Coming in Texas?

Railroad Commission Could Have More Power to Modify Permits
Eagle Ford Disposal Well Map

Eagle Ford Disposal Well Map | Click to Enlarge

New waste water disposal rules could soon impact oil and gas development in Texas.

After a rash of low-magnitude earthquakes linked to injection/waste water disposal wells across the state, new rules could soon be on the table soon for industry to dispose of its drilling waste water. According to The Houston Chronicle, the proposed rules would require companies to submit more information about the seismic history of the drill site and the underground pressure the water will cause. The rules also give the Railroad Commission (RRC) more power to modify permits and requests.

Since the drilling boom began in the Eagle Ford Shale, scientists have recorded a steady up-tick in earthquakes in South Texas. Most scientific findings link injection wells, and not fracking to the earthquakes; however, injection wells are necessary to the fracking process. Fracking of just one Eagle Ford well uses approximately 4.2 million gallons of water, and the flowback or produced water needs to be disposed of in an injection well. In addition to Eagle Ford quakes, the more highly publicized North Texas’ quakes, stemming from development of the Barnett Shale, have also been linked to injection wells.

Read more: Eagle Ford Quakes Linked to Disposal and Injection Wells

Law makers in Austin on a seismic activity subcommittee heard testimony on new waste water disposal rules at the end of August. According to the Chronicle, the subcommittee will report their findings to the House Committee on Energy Resources. The committee will take comment on the proposed rules through Sept. 29th.

Read more at chron.com

Texas Injection Wells Garner Increased Scrutiny

A Texas Water District Loses Fight to Keep Oil Company from Drilling Injection Well
Injection Well

Injection Well | Click to Enlarge

Injection wells* in the state of Texas are garnering increased scrutiny. In the past year, these wells have been linked to earthquakes, and now the state’s water districts are taking a closer look at the potential impacts of injection wells on groundwater.

Read more: Earthquakes Linked to Disposal and Injection Wells – Video

The Gonzales County Underground Water Conservation District (GCUWCD) recently lost its fight with Marathon Oil Corporation over the company’s plan to install an injection well in the Eagle Ford. In late May of 2014, at a Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) hearing, commissioners rejected the districts attempt to protest the permit, and gave Marathon the go-ahead to proceed with the injection well. The RRC’s ruling was in response to an appeal by Marathon, after an agency hearing examiner’s decision allowed the GCUWCD to protest the permit. The commissioners claimed the unanimous decision to dismiss the protest was based on the location of the well being outside the water district’s area.

The GCUWCD remains concerned the injection well could potentially contaminate the underlying Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer. After the Railroad Commission made the decision to grant the permit, environmentalist groups sounded off.

In a written statement, Luke Metzger, with Environment Texas, said, “this was a terrible decision by the Railroad Commission. Disposal of fracking waste poses serious risks to water quality and water districts should absolutely be allowed to participate in the permitting process. The Railroad Commission has a terrible track record of watchdogging the oil and gas industry and holding them accountable. Groundwater districts should have the right to scrutinize proposals to dump waste near drinking water supplies and demand strong safety standards. The Railroad Commission has become a runaway train, running down citizens rights, public health and the environment.”

At the hearing, a Marathon representative said the company was a committed “environmental steward”, and stressed the importance of consistent and clear regulation of disposal wells. The Texas Railroad Commission has the explicit authority in the state of Texas to grant or deny drilling permits.

Tell us what you think about this decision. Did the RRC make the right move, or should the GCUWCD have been allowed to protest the permit?

Injection wells – generally a waste water disposal well, in which treated waste water is injected into the ground

Eagle Ford Quakes Linked to Disposal and Injection Wells – Video

Frohlich notes the quakes he has followed are all within a mile or so of injection wells

Since the drilling boom began in the Eagle Ford Shale, scientists have recorded a steady up-tick in earthquakes in South Texas. In a KENS-TV report, Seismologist, Cliff Frohlich, explains that there could be a link between South Texas quakes and disposal and injection wells.

Also read: Is Eagle Ford Production Causing Earthquakes?

Video Highlights

  • South Texas residents concerned about earthquakes and connection to oil production
  • Difficult to determine distinction between man-made and naturally occurring earthquakes
  • Increase in earthquake activity since drilling boom began in Eagle Ford
  • Earthquakes could be linked to disposal and injection wells
Cliff Frohlich, Seismologist with The University of Texas, on Texas quakes: “Given that there’s tens of thousands of oil and gas wells in Texas and tens of thousands of injection wells, if [hydraulic fracking or disposing of fracking fluids] was hugely dangerous, then Texas would be famous because it was rocking with bad earthquakes all the time, but it’s not.”
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