Weatherford Democrat

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January 21, 2014

Reno mayor: ‘Shut these wells down’

Azle-area residents go to Austin, ask Railroad Commission to shut down injection wells pending study

(Continued)

Staff provided commissioners reports on 11 of 13 disposal wells within 15 miles of the epicenter area Two, the two closest to the epicenter, are private wells operated by XTO and Enervest, according to commission staff. The other nine are commercial disposal wells that charge a fee to dispose of well fluid and are inspected quarterly.

One commercial disposal well, operated by Foxborough Energy Company, was plugged last summer. Another, operated by Finley Resources to the south of the area, did have a violation relating to a pressure issue, commissioners were told. It was shut in and was being worked on when inspectors followed up, and the company was reminded that they must perform a test on the well before they can resume injecting, according to railroad commission staff.

Injection well operators are required to submit yearly injection records, including pressure and volume injected.

Smitherman noted at one point that monthly injection volumes appeared to have gone down for the two wells nearest the epicenter since the wells began operating several years ago.

After hearing speculation from residents that earthquakes ceased for several weeks due to less injection at the sites during the holidays, Smitherman requested staff get information on injection volume during the holiday period.

“I suppose that’s plausible, but we’ll find out what kind of operations were going on over the holidays,” Rister said.

Ramon Fernandez, deputy director of the oil and gas division over field operations also went over responses to complaints that the railroad commission has responded to since the Jan. 2 town hall in Azle.

Melanie Williams, who told commissioners she believed issues with her water pipes had been caused by the earthquakes, indicated that the problems had occurred twice in the months before the earthquakes began. Based on the information they were provided, it appeared Williams’ pipe breaks were caused by extremely high water pressure from a public water supply system and they advised her that the issue was not under railroad commission jurisdiction, staff said.

Staff could not locate any evidence of an oily discharge during a Jan. 6 inspection resulting from a complaint from Albert Warren during the town hall.

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