Fracking in a northern Alberta community was halted last week, after an earthquake measuring more than 4.8 magnitude occurred 30 kilometres west of Fox Creek.
The Repsol Oil & Gas Company (a Spanish company that bought Talisman Energy last year) confirmed that a seismic event had occurred at the time it was conducting hydraulic fracturing in the area. Repsol was still investigating whether the fracking (injecting liquids deep into underground rock to open fissures and release oil or gas) had caused the quake.
The area around Fox Creek has experienced tremors almost daily. Last week’s event was larger than most, and was felt as far as St. Alberta, 280 kilometres away. The Alberta Energy Regulator has been monitoring the area since early 2015 after a cluster of 18 seismic events occurred, including several of between 2.4 and 4.4 in January 2015. The area experienced 363 seismic events last year.
Even though the Regulator says it is “investigating and examining why the cluster of seismic events are happening in the [Fox Creek] area,” it also implicitly links them to fracking. Its website stipulates “Before conducting hydraulic fracturing operations, operators must assess the potential for induced seismicity caused by, or resulting from, hydraulic fracturing operations and be immediately prepared to implement a response plan to address potential events.”
The regulator requires that fracking operators monitor seismic activity within five kilometres of their operations. It can force the operation to shut down if an earthquake of more than 4.0 magnitude occurs.
In an article dated January 16, 2016 by Duc Tue Dang in phys.org, the mayor of Fox Creek, Jim Ahn, was quoted warning of other problems related to fracking — water shortages. In a letter he wrote to the Alberta Regulator, he said: “Industry and the provincial government (of Alberta) have been turning a blind eye to what has been going on in our area…. We have industry pulling water from our rivers, streams and lakes at rates we feel far exceed their capabilities to replenish themselves.”
To read more about the Alberta Energy Regulator’s activities in monitoring fracking seismic activity, click here.
To read the January 16 article in phys.org, click here.
To read a CBC Edmonton report, click here.
To read about the fracking-related earthquake in Northern B.C. in 2015, click here.