As we expected, the Texas RRC has formally established the Stanton Seismic Response Area (SRA) in Martin County and a small segment of Howard County, due to continuous seismic activity in the region, including a M 4.2 event on December 31, 2020, and a M 4.6 event on December 28, 2021. The RRC attributes the seismic activity to SWD injection and aims to coordinate action with industry to curtail seismicity in the area, with an objective of no more M 3.5 or greater earthquakes after 18 months of implementation. The RRC is calling on industry leaders to help construct a plan, but will implement its own seismic response action after 90 days in the absence of industry coordination.
There are 72 SWDs in the Stanton SRA, totaling 2.212 million barrels per day of permitted, maximum allowable injection capacity (prior to curtailment). The active wells (35) make up 933,000 bbl/d of capacity, with 15 deep wells and 21 shallow wells. The inactive wells (37) make up 1.279 million bbl/d of capacity, with 26 deep wells and 11 shallow wells.
We analyzed 30 out of 35 active SWDs (17 shallow wells and 13 deep wells) in the SRA with available, current data. Only 3 of these wells were utilizing over 50% of their max permitted daily volume, two of which are deep wells. Deep wells (38%) utilized more of their permitted volume than shallow wells (25%), and likewise, are permitted for much higher daily injection volumes with 4 deep SWDs permitted for 50,000 bbl/d or more. See chart below for more details:
Although operators appear to be gravitating towards deep SWD injection especially due to the well-noted overpressured nature of the San Andres formation, the Texas RRC has attributed seismic activity in the Gardendale SRA to deep injection.
With the announcement of the Stanton SRA, industry has effectively been notified, and has up to 90 days to respond with a seismic response plan. It is worth noting that in the Gardendale SRA, following the 90-day feedback period, regulators did proceed to suspend deep SWD operations within the borders of the SRA. [Check out our older blogs regarding the Gardendale SRA if you haven’t already: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/lauracapper_oilfieldwater-oilandgas-producedwater-activity-6851585895171264512-xncx ]. A portion of the Gardendale SRA restriction reaches into the southwest corner of Martin County (see map below to see proximity of both SRAs). We expect persistent seismic activity in the region to escalate demand for nearby commercial and non-commercial recycling facilities.
Curious about the bottom-line impact of these curtailments to area Operators? Energy Makers is currently completing its annual Permian Water Balance assessments, including the direct impacts of recent seismic curtailments on production, midstream, disposal, and recycling supply and demand. If you are interested in hearing more about this (commercial fee) study – please contact us and let us know which areas you are most interested in. We’ll aim to prioritize for our customers!