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Induced Seismicity – Implications for Addressing Regulatory Requirements for Design, Analysis, and Monitoring of Underground Injections and Hydraulic Fracturing


In 2016, a published technical study correlated wastewater injection with induced seismicity in California. Connecting the 2005 earthquake swarm on the White Wolf fault zone with wastewater disposal wells represents new evidence that induced seismicity associated with wastewater injection is possible in California. What are the potential regulatory implications for California's oil and gas industry? In the wake of the increased frequency of earthquakes in the Eastern and Central United States, a thorough engineering analysis of underground injection is helpful in understanding the extent of the treatment effects. A better understanding of the temporal and spatial growth of the fracture network in the reservoir can help avoid unplanned consequences while maximizing production. In addition, new regulations require design and analysis of wastewater disposal and seismicity monitoring in the vicinity of injection wells. Our team developed a practical and technical process to address regulatory requirements. This approach is based on our experience evaluating injection induced seismicity, and modeling Class II Underground Injection Wells (UIC) and well stimulation. Our technical framework includes a general workflow that identifies the steps for implementing a safe injection and well stimulation practice. We apply this workflow to a case study in California and report our findings. Reservoir properties, as well as operational parameters, may influence substantial effects on induced seismicity potential. Our paper presents general findings from recent projects conducted in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and California.