Oklahoma Corporation Commission
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) is the state’s regulatory agency charged with overseeing Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry.
OCC has taken numerous actions related to disposal wells in specific zones around the state based on seismic events, under its statutory authority to oversee oil and gas operations in the state. Oklahoma statutes grant the OCC “exclusive jurisdiction” to regulate Class II underground injection wells.
OCC regularly updates its website “Hot Topics” with developments in its seismicity response. See the links below for a chronological listing of OCC actions related to seismicity:
- January 4, 2016 plan in response to Edmond area seismicity
- January 13, 2016 plan in response to Fairview area seismicity
- January 20, 2016 media advisory regarding Sandridge Energy
- February 16, 2016 media advisory regarding regional earthquake response plan for western Oklahoma
- March 7, 2016 media advisory regarding expanded regional earthquake response
- September 12, 2016 Earthquake Response Summary
- November 3, 2016 media advisory regarding Pawnee
- November 8, 2016 media advisory regarding Cushing
- November 18, 2016 Earthquake Response Summary
- December 20, 2016 new release, New Year, New Plays, New Plans
- April 21, 2015 statement on Oklahoma Geological Survey finding regarding Oklahoma’s seismicity
- July 17, 2015 update to the March, 2015 directive outlining an Area of Interest and requiring operators to prove operations are not in communication with the “basement” rock
- Area of Interest Map
- July 28, 2015 actions in the Crescent area
- August 3, 2015 disposal volume reduction plan in Oklahoma and Logan Counties
- September 18, 2015 plan for the Cushing area
- October 19, 2015 additions to the Cushing area plan
- November 10, 2015 plan in response to Medford area seismicity
- November 16, 2015 plan in response to Fairview area seismicity
- November 19, 2015 plan in response to Cherokee-Carmen area seismicity
- December 3, 2015 plan in response to Byron/Cherokee area and Medford area seismicity
Traffic Light System
The Commission has adopted a “traffic light” system for disposal well operators, as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences, which directs staff to review disposal well permits for proximity to faults, seismicity in the area and other factors. All proposed disposal wells, regardless of location, now undergo a seismicity review.
As the science around disposal wells continues to evolve, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission will also evolve the application of the “traffic light” system. The “yellow light” permitting system is in place for proposed disposal wells that do not meet automatic “red light” criteria, but for which there are still concerns regarding seismicity. Yellow light permit requirements may include the following:
- Any permit granted under “yellow light” is temporary (6 months)
- Permit criteria is based on induced seismicity concerns
- Wells must shut down every 60 days and take bottom hole pressure readings
- The language governing the permit can be made more stringent at any time
- The operator must monitor for background seismicity
- Permit criteria includes mandatory shut down in the event of defined seismic activity
- Permit process is done through public court process (rather than administrative approval)
Disposal Well Monitoring and Reporting
The Corporation Commission also adopted new rules last year, which Governor Fallin approved and were effective September 2014. The rules increase from monthly to daily the required recording of well pressure and volume of disposal wells that dispose into the Arbuckle formation. The rules also require all disposal wells permitted for 20,000 barrels/day to conduct Mechanical Integrity Tests.
All disposal wells with an Area of Interest, regardless of size or formation, must record volume and pressure daily and report weekly to the Commission. The information is then placed on an FTP site that allows researchers access to the data.