Oklahoma residents sue oil and gas companies over earthquakes

A dozen oil and gas companies caused a rash of earthquakes by pumping salty oil field wastewater into underground disposal wells, a group of Oklahoma residents allege in a lawsuit this week.

The suit filed Monday in a state district court in Oklahoma City court, focuses on a pair of earthquakes on Dec. 29 and Jan. 1, each greater than 4.2 magnitude, that shook Edmond, a community north of Oklahoma City. About 4,400 power outages were reported in the area after the quakes.

The 14 residents who brought the suit say they suffered damage to their homes, including destruction and loss of personal property, cracked and broken interior and exterior walls, bricks and fascia, and movement of the foundations.

The lawsuit alleges that the companies were negligent in disposing the saltwater waste from their drilling activities in the area without considering the risks of inducing seismic activity.

A spokesman for one of the defendants, Devon Energy, said the company would not comment on pending litigation.

Following a rise in earthquakes in 2015, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates drilling in the state, introduced new rules to govern wastewater disposal by oil and gas companies.

Wastewater is a byproduct of most drilling operations, but hydraulic fracturing, the well completion technology that has boosted U.S. production from dense shale, uses far more water to blast oil and natural gas deposits from underground. Studies have linked underground wastewater disposal to increasing seismic activity in drilling areas.

But researchers have also noted that not all of the earthquakes in Oklahoma can be linked to disposal wells. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s new rules regulate wastewater disposal below a certain depth, stopping drillers from injecting water below the state’s deepest rock formation.

The commission also has eyed high-volume disposal wells where more than 25,000 barrels of saltwater per day have been injected. According to The Oklahoman,  the Edmond disposal wells weren’t the type of high-volume wells regulators had targeted.

Besides, Devon, defendants in the suit are  Sundance Energy, Grayhorse operating, Pedestal Oil Company, New Dominion, R.C. Taylor Operating Company, TNT Operating Company, White Operating Company, Rainbo Service Co., Marjo Operating Mid-Continent, Special Energy Corporation and Northport Production Company.

Earthquake suit below via KOKH.

Edmond earthquake suit by amprickett

SHOW MORE