Earthquake forces fracking shutdown
The Canadian unit of Spain’s Repsol has been ordered to shut down a hydraulic fracturing operation in west-central Alberta after an earthquake hit the area on Jan. 11.
A spokeswoman for the Alberta Energy Regulator said the company has “ceased operations ... and they will not be allowed to resume operations until we have approved their plans.”
Repsol said it is working with the AER to ensure all environmental and safety rules are followed.
The company confirmed that a seismic event had occurred and that it was conducting fracturing operations at the time the 4.8 quake occurred. The AER automatically shuts down a fracking site when a quake of 4.0 or greater is recorded.
Repsol said it will review and analyze “available geological and geophysical data, as well as onsite seismic monitoring data.”
A seismologist with Natural Resources Canada said it was too soon to tell whether Repsol’s activities triggered the quake, which she said was “quite large for the area, larger than normal.”
Jeffrey Gu, a professor of geophysics at the University of Alberta, said 366 seismic events, many in the range of 2.4 to 4.4, have been recorded over the past year in the area surrounding the community of Fox Creek.
He said that if it is shown that fracturing induced the quake it would be the largest such event on record in Canada.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said she will ask the AER to speed up a review of fracturing events and make recommendations “we can consider sooner rather than later.”
For now, the AER is applying new rules imposed last February in the Duvernay formation, one of the largest shale oil and gas deposits in that covers a large span of western Alberta.
- GARY PARK