Fracking Doesn’t Cause Significant Quakes, University Study Says

04 09, 2013 by Bloomberg

Hydraulic fracturing used to access oil and gas from rock and shale hasn’t caused “significant” earthquakes, according to a Durham University study.

“Hydraulic fracturing is not a significant mechanism for inducing felt earthquakes,” Richard Davies, director of the U.K. university’s energy institute, said today in a statement. “The size and number of felt earthquakes caused by fracking is low compared to other manmade triggers such as mining, geothermal activity or reservoir water storage.”

Cuadrilla Resources Ltd. drilling caused two tremors in 2011 in northwest England, leading to an 18-month moratorium on the method known as fracking, which uses water, chemicals and sand to blast underground rock and release trapped fuel.

The Durham study found fracking has the potential to reactivate dormant faults, according to today’s statement.

“We cannot see every fault underground and therefore cannot completely discount the possibility of the process causing a small felt earthquake,” Davies said. “But there are ways to further mitigate against the possibility; the oil and gas industry can avoid faults that are critically stressed and already near breaking point.”