SandRidge Energy has agreed to a plan with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s Oil and Gas Conservation Division (OGCD) to reduce the volume of wastewater being injected in the Medford and Cherokee/Byron areas and convert some of the wells to help with research operations. The Oklahoma City based company balked at the first Corporation Commission request a few months ago asking to see the data being used to back the order.
OGCD Director Tim Baker said that the plan takes quick action in the areas that are seismically active while becoming more proactive to collection information on the earthquake issue.
“Under the plan, SandRidge has agreed to remove 7 wells from disposal operations, and cut back its total volume for the areas in question by 40 percent, or approximately 191 thousand barrels a day,” Baker explained. “Of the 7 wells that will stop disposal, 3 will cease operation entirely, while the remaining four will be used as monitoring wells in an Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS) research project. Also, a well that has been unused will be given to researchers, making for a total of five wells dedicated to research.”
The ability to collect a new source of data is giving Baker high hopes for the project with SandRidge.
“For the first time, researchers will have data that shows what is happening underground in real-time when it comes to disposal and seismicity,” Baker said. “This OGS project will be in the forefront of the effort to learn not only more about what can be done about the current earthquake issue, but also what can be done to better identify and manage future risk.”
A looming court case over SandRidge’s refusal to comply with the original order from the Corporation Commission is now put to rest.
“We had prepared and were about to file a case to force compliance to the two plans we had issued for the areas in December,” Baker said. “Sandridge was willing to try and work out an agreement. I think the result is superior to the plans originally issued. There is still a very significant cutback in volume, and the company has agreed to provide resources for this critically needed OGS research program.”
The agreement also receives praise from Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association President Chad Warmington.
“This is a very positive outcome. The processes at the Corporation Commission have worked exactly as they were intended. SandRidge was able to work with the OCC using an extensive review of data and science in order to achieve a very positive outcome,” said Warmington. “SandRidge has additionally agreed to develop and pay for a significant new data collection program that will be used by the Oklahoma Geological Survey, Oklahoma Corporation Commission and other researchers to make smarter, more informed and impactful regulatory decisions.”
Warmington believes the SandRidge agreement shows the industry is taking seriously Oklahoma’s increased seismicity issue.
“It clearly demonstrates that the oil and gas industry takes our responsibilities seriously as corporate citizens and community partners to develop and use the most current science available to ensure we are making smart and responsible decisions regarding our operations. Again, this is a very positive outcome.”