When most people think about oil and gas production, water probably isn't something that comes to mind. But maybe it should.
When a typical oil well starts producing, there are three main products pumped out: gas, oil, and water. The amount of water is significant. In Colorado, for every barrel of oil produced in 2013, there were 6 barrels of wastewater pumped from the ground. (A barrel is 42 gallons.)
How that water -- sometimes referred to as produced water -- is treated and disposed of has become a growing issue as oil and gas production has increased in Colorado and across the United States.
Scientists with the University of Colorado Boulder and the U.S. Geological Survey are calling for changes in monitoring and addressing human-caused earthquakes.
Over the past 13 years, many parts of the United States that are not earthquake prone have begun experiencing significant quake activity. In Colorado and other states east of the Rocky Mountains, the earthquakes are linked to injection of wastewater from oil and gas production.
The paper, published Feb. 19 in the journal Science, calls for better monitoring of these earthquakes and injection wells linked to such quakes. The ultimate goal is to use such monitoring to change the wastewater injection activities that cause the quakes, reducing risk to humans and property.
A seismograph near a Greeley injection well in early June 2014.
Credit Jim Hill / KUNC
The owner of a waste water disposal well that may have caused earthquakes in the Greeley area now wants to increase the amount it can inject underground by 20 percent – even though smaller earthquakes are still happening.
Through a Colorado Open Records Act request, BizWest reporter Steve Lynn discovered that the company, NGL Water Solutions DJ LLC has submitted a request to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, asking for permission to inject 2,000 more gallons of waste water into a fracking fluid disposal well.