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Statistical Assessment of Operational Risks for Induced Seismicity from Hydraulic Fracturing in the Montney, Northeast BC

Lead Researcher(s):  Enlighten Geoscience Ltd.

Project ID:  2019-008

Key Research Organization(s):  Enlighten Geoscience Ltd.

Project Location:  Northeast BC

Strategic Focus Area:  Energy-Oil and Gas

Summary



This project aims to determine some of the factors that can influence induced seismicity in the Montney Play in the Northeast Region of British Columbia. It uses statistical methods to analyze public data from natural gas completion activities with information about the geology to predict earthquakes resulting from natural gas development based on previous events.

The project is one of a series of four research projects launched in December 2019 to further investigate how and why, in certain circumstances, earthquakes can be caused by hydraulic fracturing and wastewater disposal during natural gas development.

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Research Statement

Numerous factors influence the potential for the hydraulic fracturing and wastewater disposal activities used for natural gas development to cause earthquakes, a phenomenon known as induced seismicity.

Geoscience BC has been funding induced seismicity research projects in BC’s Northeast Region since 2012. Additional research is needed to better understand when, where and why seismicity occurs and to inform industry, government and community decisions so that the likelihood of future induced seismicity can be reduced.

This study uses a multivariate statistical approach (observing or analyzing more than one outcome variable) to assess publicly available data on well completion (the process of preparing a drilled well to produce natural gas) and geologic factors to further develop understanding of their role in induced seismicity. The project is focussed on the Montney Play, a gas-prone area in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in BC’s Northeast Region that contains some of North America’s most significant natural gas deposits.

Goals

This Energy project fits under Geoscience BC’s Strategic Objective of Facilitating Responsible Natural Resource Development and our goal to:

  • Maintain joint research with partners examining seismicity induced by hydraulic fracturing in northeastern BC to provide new science to better understand induced seismicity, mitigate risks and further improve regulation and industry practices.

Specifically, this project is:

  • compiling a database of well completion parameters and a limited database of geologic risk factors for wells in the study area (Montney Play);
  • creating a Montney Play-specific predictive model for probability and severity of induced seismicity;
  • developing methodology for statistical interpretation of seismicity risk; and
  • making recommendations for Montney Play-specific mitigation measures to reduce the influence of high-importance features on induced seismicity.

Benefits

Benefits of this research include:

  • development of new technologies to aid hydraulic fracturing management;
  • new public peer-reviewed research to inform future natural gas development and regulation;
  • increased number of induced seismicity subject matter experts; and
  • reduced number and intensity of felt events.

Location Details

This project focuses on the Montney Play in BC’s Northeast Region.