By Anastassia Gubin
Hydrologists and geologists warn that to avoid or mitigate damaging earthquakes induced by hydraulic fracturing -fracking- or injection of fluids in oil and gas extraction, transparency in the data is needed, and that all the public have access to them, according to a study published by the United States National Geophysical Service (USGS) on February 19.
In the case of the United States, large areas of the center of the country in recent years began to experience stronger and more frequent earthquakes. “They have caused great public concern, as well as damage to structures. This increase in seismic activity is not the result of natural processes, ”USGS noted.
A similar situation is occurring in other countries where this practice is carried out. In 2014, Mexican authorities analyzed the increase in earthquakes caused by hydraulic fracturing or fracking, according to the Act of the Nuevo León Congress in March 2014. There, the professor and member of the Mexican anti-fracking alliance, Juan Alberto Hernández, warned about the"serious" possibility that the number of earthquakes that Monterrey presented in the last year will increase.
Now the USGS geophysicistWilliam Ellsworth, highlighted that "The science of induced earthquakes is ready for application”.
Earthquakes happen daily in the world, but in contrast to the natural seismic threat, "the risk of induced earthquakes can be reduced”Warned the researcher and his team.
Their study reaffirms that “the increase in seismic activity is due to the injection of fluids associated with new technologies that allow the extraction of oil and gas from previously unproductive reservoirs ”.
Extraction processes consume large amounts of water and chemicals. Removal of this wastewater by deep injection sometimes results in earthquakes that are large enough to be felt. The problem is that “sometimes they are harmful”. A Oklahoma earthquake of 5.6 degrees caused one of the alarms. Geologists suggested it was caused by injection into deep removal wells in the Wilzetta North field.
For this, the US team highlighted that “it is important that all information of this type is accessible to the public, because only in this way can it be used to provide the timely guidance needed to reduce the risk and consequences of induced earthquakes, "said USGS hydrologist Barbara Bekins and co-author of the paper.
“Improved seismic networks and public access to fluid injection data will allow us to detect induced earthquake problems at an early stage, when seismic events are typically very small, in order to avoid the largest and potentially more earthquakes harmful later, ”the authors explained.
For this, they highlighted that those involved such as the energy resources industry, government agencies, the earth science community, must give all the information to the general population.
USGS has warned in the past that the activity of man is responsible of the increase in earthquakes, for example, in the Oklahoma region. But this phenomenon has been increasing in recent years, without measures being taken.
In Colombia, in 2014, Senator Jorge Enrique Robledo, along with a union of oil workers, blamed Pacific's Additional Synchronized Thermal Recovery (STAR) technology for the increase in earthquakes in the Meta department, accusation which the company describes as unfounded. According to Robledo, it is because the high temperatures and gases that develop below fracture the rocks, according to this medium.
The injection of fluids with the method known as “fracking” or hydraulic fractures, is also responsible for the water crisis, according to another study by CERES.
An example was given in 2014 at the level of justice, when the judge blamed the Aruba Petroleum company for affecting a family in Texas.