From October 19th to 21st, the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission hosted its 2014 annual conference in Columbus, Ohio. The organization is a collection of regulators from states in which there is significant oil and natural gas exploration and development, and it advocates for states’ rights to govern petroleum resources within their borders. One of the key topics at the conference was reported to be the potential implications of recent news published in a study in the journal Seismological Research Letters that numerous, unnoticeable earthquakes in Harrison County, Ohio, likely were connected to oil and natural gas exploration activities. The earthquakes ranged from magnitude 1.7 to 2.2 on the Richter scale, and 190 of them occurred in the 39 hours after hydraulic fracturing activity occurred at one well in late September and early October 2013. It has been suggested that this is the fifth documented instance of a linkage between hydraulic fracturing earthquakes on a fault.
One source indicated that, if the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ recently-announced regulations had been in place when these earthquakes occurred, drilling activity in the state would have been halted. The stricter regulations, previously discussed on this blog, were announced in response to an earlier connection suggested by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources between hydraulic fracturing activity, seismic activity, and what is believed to be a previously unknown microfault near Youngstown, Ohio. It remains unclear whether the links posited by this latest study will lead to further regulatory action, but the BakerHostetler North America Shale Blog will keep readers apprised of developments.