USGS Estimates Bossier and Haynesville Formations

By: Michael K. Reer

On April 13, 2017, the U.S. Geological Survey announced that the Bossier and Haynesville formations onshore and within state waters along the Gulf Coast contain an estimated 4.0 billion barrels of oil, 304.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 1.9 billion barrels of natural gas liquids. The estimate marks the largest continuous natural gas assessment ever conducted by USGS and includes both conventional and unconventional reserves as well as undiscovered, technically recoverably resources. Undiscovered resources are those that are estimated to exist based on geologic knowledge and statistical analysis of known resources. Technically recoverable resources are those that can be produced using currently available technology and industry practices.

The assessment is part of a larger USGS effort to assess domestic petroleum basins using standardized methodology and protocol. In November 2016, USGS estimated that the Wolfcamp shale in the Permian Basin contains 20 billion barrels of oil, 16 trillion cubic feet of associated natural gas, and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Another Induced Seismicity Suit Filed in OK

By: Michael K. Reer

On March 3, 2017, the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma filed a lawsuit in the District Court of the Pawnee Nation, alleging damages from induced seismic events, including damages resulting from a September 3, 2016 magnitude-5.8 seismic event that occurred near two wastewater disposal wells. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges absolute liability, negligence, private nuisance, and trespass causes of action and seeks compensation for physical damages to real and personal property, market value loss to real property, and punitive damages. Named defendants in the lawsuit include two wastewater disposal well operators and 25 unnamed companies that have “engaged in injection well operations in and around Pawnee.”

The Petition also discusses the U.S. Geological Survey’s recently released 2017 Induced Seismicity Forecast, which projects that Oklahoma has a greater than 10% chance of experiencing an induced seismic event in 2017.

Monday, March 20, 2017

USGS Releases PA Test Results

By: Michael K. Reer

On March 6, 2017, the U.S. Geological Survey released the test results of 75 private drinking water wells in Lycoming County, in north-central Pennsylvania. USGS found that water from most of the sampled wells contain concentrations of radon that exceed a proposed, non-binding health standard for drinking water and that some wells contain concentrations of arsenic or methane that exceed existing drinking water standards.

USGS states in its press release that the tests were carried out in 2014, in part, to assess the natural characteristics of local groundwater and the potential effects of land uses, including natural gas production, on local water supplies. Significantly, USGS found that water wells near unconventional development were of similar quality to water wells previously sampled in Wayne County – where unconventional development is not permitted.

Pennsylvania does not have comprehensive regulations governing the drilling and maintenance of private drinking water wells. The relatively high number of naturally contaminated water wells in the Commonwealth highlights the importance of conducting comprehensive water quality sampling prior to unconventional development.
Tuesday, March 07, 2017

USGS Releases 2017 Induced Seismicity Forecast

On March 1, 2017, the U.S. Geological Survey released an updated hazard map that forecasts the likelihood of induced seismic events for the coming year. This is the second year that USGS has published an induced seismicity forecast. Previously, the agency only projected naturally occurring seismic events and identified “induced seismicity zones.” According to USGS, the overall seismic hazard for 2017 is lower than that forecasted in 2016. USGS attributes the decrease in induced seismic events to an overall decrease in oil and natural gas wastewater injection. USGS uses induced seismicity data from the previous 12 months to project induced seismic events over the coming year.

In shale basins of note:

Texas (including Permian, Eagle Ford, Barnett, and Haynesville):

In 2016, USGS projected that parts of the Barnett shale had a 5% chance of experiencing an induced seismic event. In 2017, USGS projects that, aside from a small portion of the Permian, Texas has a less than 1% chance of experiencing an induced seismic event. USGS has identified a small area southwest of Odessa as having a slightly elevated chance (1%-2%) of experiencing an induced seismic event.

Appalachia (including Marcellus and Utica):

Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia continue to have a very small chance of experiencing induced seismicity. The 2016 model identified Appalachia as having a less than 1% chance of experiencing an induced seismic event, but noted that Ashtabula and Youngstown, Ohio were two induced seismicity zones that could impact future forecasts. Both zones remained quiet throughout 2016.

Rockies/Upper Midwest (including Bakken, Denver, and Pierre):

Colorado and the Upper Midwest remain relatively unlikely to experience an induced seismic event in 2017. According to USGS, the Bakken does not have any recorded incidents of induced seismicity, and some of Colorado’s induced seismic events are likely unrelated to oil and natural gas development activities. Aside from a small area in south-central Colorado, USGS projects that the region has a less than 1% chance of experiencing an induced seismic event in 2017.


Despite the overall decrease in induced seismic events, parts of Oklahoma continue to have a greater than 10% chance of experiencing an induced seismic event. USGS notes in its press release that despite the decrease in overall seismic events in 2016, Oklahoma experienced the largest seismic event ever recorded in the state as well as the greatest number of large seismic events compared to any prior year.
Thursday, March 02, 2017

USGS to Release Updated Hazard Maps

On February 23, 2017, the U.S. Geological Survey announced

that it will release updated maps detailing the potential of natural and induced seismic events on March 1, 2017. The 2017 maps mark the second year that USGS has projected both natural and induced seismic risks. USGS previously stated that the best indicator of future induced seismic events in a given region is the number of induced seismic events that the region experienced in the previous 12 months. Therefore, the 2017 induced hazard map is likely to reflect recent seismic activities that USGS believes were induced by human activities such as wastewater injection, coal mining, and reservoir drawdowns.

Friday, February 24, 2017

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