USGS studies suggest that fracking is only rarely the cause of felt earthquakes


For the first time, new USGS maps identify potential ground-shaking hazards from both human-induced and natural earthquakes. In the past, USGS maps only identified natural earthquake hazards.

This is also the first one-year outlook for the nation’s earthquake hazards, and is a supplement to existing USGS assessments that provide a 50-year forecast

The report shows that approximately 7 million people live and work in areas of the central and eastern U.S. (CEUS) with potential for damaging shaking from induced seismicity. Within a few portions of the CEUS, the chance of damage from all types of earthquakes is similar to that of natural earthquakes in high-hazard areas of California.

“By including human-induced events, our assessment of earthquake hazards has significantly increased in parts of the U.S.,” said Mark Petersen, Chief of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project. “This research also shows that much more of the nation faces a significant chance of having damaging earthquakes over the next year, whether natural or human-induced.”

Induced earthquakes are triggered by human activities, with wastewater disposal being the primary cause for recent events in many areas of the CEUS. Wastewater from oil and gas production operations can be disposed of by injecting it into deep underground wells, below aquifers that provide drinking water.

Continue reading article at the USGS

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Colorado House passes O&G earthquake bill over Hickenlooper’s concerns

Earthquake Fault Diagram - Courtesy USGS

Earthquake Fault Diagram – Courtesy USGS

A bill that would make oil and gas companies liable for damage caused by earthquakes, and raised concerns in the Governor’s office, passed the Colorado House of Representatives on Friday on a party line vote.

The vote was 33 in favor, 31 opposed. The bill now goes to the Senate, where observers say its chances of passage are slim.

HB16 1310, sponsored by Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, would allow homeowners to seek compensation for damage to individuals, their homes or other property caused by oil and gas drilling. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora.

“This bill holds oil and gas to the same standards as other industries in Colorado,” Salazar said in a statement after the vote Friday.

“We’re trying to give Colorado homeowners the tools to protect their health, safety and property rights.”

But Gov. John Hickenlooper’s spokeswoman, Kathy Green, said via email Thursday — before the third and final vote in the House on Friday — that Salazar’sproposal “raises serious concerns.”

“First, the department hasn’t seen widespread problems with property damage caused by seismicity in Colorado, generally, and we haven’t seen widespread seismicity caused by oil and gas operations,” Green said.

Continue reading story at The Denver Business Journal

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Forget fracking. Choking and lifting are latest efforts to stem U.S. shale bust

Horizontal Drilling Rig in Weld County Colorado - Credit Niobrara News

Horizontal Drilling Rig in Weld County Colorado – Credit Niobrara News

By Swetha Gopinath and Amrutha Gayathri – Reuters – March 9, 2016

(Reuters) – Something is awry in the beleaguered U.S. shale patch: older wells, which normally gush oil or natural gas in their first few months before rapidly depleting, are not petering out as quickly as they should.

When oil prices began falling a year and a half ago in the deepest rout in a generation, many analysts expected U.S. crude production, especially from fracking in the new shale plays that contributed to a global supply glut, to follow quickly.

Producers, such as Continental Resources Inc <CLR.N> and Whiting Petroleum Corp <WLL.N>, have slashed spending on almost everything, in some cases even leaving drilled wells unfinished to conserve cash and wait for a sustained turnaround in prices.

With oilfield activity suddenly contracting, production from a dwindling number of freshly fracked wells would be unable to compensate for the rapid depletion of older wells. Yet that long-anticipated turning point has only just begun to emerge – partly because producers had a couple more tricks in store.

Some drillers are spending a little bit more on measures that are subtly flattening the so-called “production curve” of shale wells, either by limiting the initial surge in output or by squeezing a few additional barrels out of older wells, according to industry executives and analysts.

Continue reading article at Reuters

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Mineral owners assert property rights in Colorado’s oil and gas fight

OilPumpBy John Aguilar – The Denver Post – March 6, 2016

LA SALLE — The devastating floods of 2013 sent water from the South Platte River cascading across Chuck and Roni Sylvester’s farm and into their home, creating a high-water mark 17 inches above their baseboard.

The damage to the couple’s house on the outskirts of La Salle was $250,000 — an amount that could have led to financial ruin for the 78-year-old semi-retired farmer and his wife had the 11 oil and gas wells on his 200-acre property not been spinning off a consistent stream of royalty income year after year.

“Having those royalties made it possible to repair my house,” said Chuck Sylvester, who bought his home — and the mineral rights underneath it — from his mother in the early 1970s.

But Sylvester and more than half a million mineral rights owners like him in Colorado increasingly feel like their underground assets are under attack as communities opposed to oil and gas exploration call for temporary drilling bans or well-siting restrictions.

Compounding their troubles has been a dramatic drop in the price of oil — from more than $100 a barrel in mid-2014 to around $35 a barrel Friday. Michelle Smith, president of the Colorado chapter of the National Association of Royalty Owners, said royalty revenue has plummeted up to 70 percent in some cases. Continue reading “Mineral owners assert property rights in Colorado’s oil and gas fight” »

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Analysts pile on with downgrades of Denver oil company’s stock

Bonanza_Creek_Energy_LogoBen Miller – Contributing Writer – Denver Business Journal – March 2, 2016

One day after announcing that a $255 million asset sale had fallen through, eight analysts downgraded shares of this Denver oil company’s stock.

On Monday afternoon, Bonanza Creek Energy Inc. announced its fourth-quarter earnings and that i ts previously announced $255 million asset sale deal withMeritage Midstream Services of Denver did not close.

On Tuesday, the analysts pounced, with eight separate analysts downgrading shares of Bonanza Creek (NYSE: BCEI).

Continue reading article at The Denver Business Journal

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Special Discount for Niobrara News Readers looking to attend DUG Rockies Conference!

DUG Rockies March 9-11 2016Special Discount For The Niobrara News Subscribers:

Secure your seat at the 7th annual DUG Rockies conference and exhibition using discount code NIOBRARANEWS16 and save $200* off the currently advertised price. Plus, register a group of 4 or more at the same time, and you’ll save an additional $100 off each registration.

*Discount valid for Conference & Exhibition passes only. Not valid for exhibit-hall-only passes. New registrations only. Not valid for refunds. Continue reading “Special Discount for Niobrara News Readers looking to attend DUG Rockies Conference!” »

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Noble Energy slashes budget, drilling rigs in Colorado for 2016

Horizontal Drilling Rig in Weld County Colorado - Credit Niobrara News

Horizontal Drilling Rig in Weld County Colorado – Credit Niobrara News

Noble Energy Inc. on Wednesday said it plans to slash its 2016 capital budget by about 50 percent, to $1.5 billion, following a $2 billion net loss for 2015, or $4.73 per share, due to the bust in oil prices.

Houston-based Noble (NYSE: NBL), is one of Colorado’s biggest oil and gas companies with hundreds of wells in the Denver-Julesburg (DJ) Basin, which sprawls north and east of Denver to the state lines.

The company also said it wrote down$1.27 billion worth of goodwill and international assets during the fourth quarter.

The loss was a downward swing from the profit of $402 million, or $1.05 per share, Noble reported for all of 2014.

Continue reading article at The Denver Business Journal

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Greeley charges impact fees on oil and gas development

City of Greeley ColoradoLinda Kane – Energy Pipeline – February 22, 2016

For the first time in Greeley, local oil and gas companies are paying for their industry’s impact to the city infrastructure.

The city of Greeley last year implemented development fees for oil and gas operations, applied to every well developed in city limits. Development impact fees are a way for growth to pay for growth; developers typically pay on their building permits fees to help the city pay for additional pay water and sewer, parks and recreation, transportation and public safety infrastructure to accommodate the growth the developments bring. Oil and gas was added last year for the first time since development fees began in 2000.

“It’s a one-time fee and it’s when they drill they have to pay that,” said Brad Mueller, director of community development for the city of Greeley. “People will look at that number and say that it’s too low — that the impact on the roads is very big. But, that is a scientifically figured number.”

The fee is $1,999 per well. Pertaining to the oil industry, that fee helps to pay for transportation, police and fire expenses.

Continue reading article at Energy Pipeline


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