On Friday, June 15, the U.S. National Research Council (NRC) released a report titled Induced Seismicity Potential in Energy Technologies. The report, prepared by Congressional request through the U.S. Department of Energy, analyzes whether a linkage exists between seismic activity and the injection into the earth of fluids related to energy production (e.g., hydraulic fracturing, disposal via injection well, carbon capture and storage). Among other things, the NRC concluded in its report that hydraulic fracturing “does not pose a high risk” for inducing seismic activity. Key quote:
The process of hydraulic fracturing a well as presently implemented for shale gas recovery does not pose a high risk for inducing felt seismic events (M > 2). Estimates suggest that over 35,000 wells for shale gas development exist in the United States today (EPA, 2011). Only one case has been documented worldwide in which hydraulic fracturing for shale gas development has been confirmed as the cause of felt seismic events. This event occurred in Blackpool, England in 2011 (Eisner et al., 2011; Box 3.6).
The NRC’s conclusions coincide with the preliminary results of a study the Ohio Department of Natural Resources conducted earlier this year in response to the December 31, 2011 Youngstown, Ohio seismic events. ODNR’s study concluded that the Youngstown seismic event was induced by an injection well — not, as many had speculated, by a hydraulically fractured well.