Oil in Midland Area Leads Residents to Worry About Earthquakes

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Twenty billion barrels of oil have been discovered in Midland Basin region, and once officials start extracting it, residents are worried that earthquakes may hit the area. The Department Chair of Petroleum Engineering at Texas Tech, Marshall Watson, told KCBD that the chances of earthquake activity is “highly unlikely,” though he does understand the concern of citizens.

He went on to explain, “Hydraulic fracturing in itself does not cause earthquakes…period. No exceptions. What does, or may cause, and we still don’t have a link to this, is the continued injection of waste water. The water cannot be dumped on the ground because it’s salt water, it’s like sea water…and to take care of that, we re-inject it back into the reservoirs that are naturally salt water to begin with.”

KTLA reports that only 50-60 percent of the oil will be able to be uncovered, but it’s still hard for residents to not fret, especially when some insurance companies are recommending an earthquake policy to people in the Midland area.

Killebrew Insurance says, “The increase in fracking, the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside has been associated with the increase in earthquake activity.” Yet, on the other hand, Watson insists that this is an exaggeration and that “you actually have to inject many millions of gallons of water, and that happens over long periods of time, not days, or weeks, or even months, it’s in years.”

Residents will have to decide for themselves through research to determine if they should feel an increased concern about earthquakes or not.