On November 23,2021, the NMOCD issued a new framework in response to increased seismic activity believed to be related to UIC Class II injection wells throughout New Mexico. The USGS and NM Bureau of Geology has identified several locations with heightened seismic events:
- “County Line SRA”- approximately 35 miles east southeast of Malaga, NM; from March to September 2021, seven earthquakes (M 2.5 – M 4.0) were detected
- Six miles northeast of Jal- since August 2020, thirteen earthquakes (M 1.8 – M 2.7) were detected
- Twelve miles southwest of Lovington- In June 2020, 21 earthquakes (M 2.3 – M 3.3) were detected
- Earthquakes occurring in the last month: M 3.2 event 24 miles southwest of Monument, M 4.0 event 15 miles North of Cimarron, and a M 2.5 event 15 miles north northeast of Ute Park.
Note: Earthquakes described in no. 4 are not shown in the map. These seismic events occurred much further north, towards the New Mexico and Colorado border.
In order to mitigate seismic activity throughout New Mexico, the OCD has implemented a Seismicity Response Protocol that will be “implemented either through voluntary actions by operators and/or orders issued by the OCD”.
The protocol is split into two categories: 1) Effective when two M 2.5 events occur within 30 days and within a 10 mile radius, and 2) Effective with one M 3.0+ event.
Category 1 requires weekly reporting of daily injection volumes and average surface pressures. Operators must provide analysis identifying the perforated injection interval and formation tops and monitor seismicity, via USGS or NMTSO data, within a 10-mile radius of the well.
Category 2 is further split into two categories: 1)M 3.0+ event and 2) M 3.5+ event. If a M 3.0+ event occurs, operators must follow all category 1 protocols and reduce injection rates by 50% or 25% if the event transpires within 0-3 miles or 3-6 miles, respectively. Volume reductions should begin immediately and be completed within a week. Further, if a M 3.5+ event occurs, operators must follow all category 1 protocols, but wells will be shut-in or injection rates will be reduced by 50% or 25% (again based on proximity), 0-3 miles, 3-6 miles, and 6-10 miles, respectively.
It is important to note that all rates should be reduced from the previous 6-month daily average of active injection days.
Operators are urged to report seismic events within a 10 mile radius through the Seismicity Response Protocol Information Form and implement voluntary reductions outlined above; however, the OCD may append additional requirements determined by the specific circumstances.
For more detailed information regarding the Seismicity Response protocol, visit: https://www.emnrd.nm.gov/wp-content/uploads/11-23-21-NOTICE-Induced-Seismicity-Immediate-Response-Plan.pdf