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Development of an Induced Seismicity Susceptibility Framework and Map for NEBC using an Integrated Machine Learning and Mechanistic Validation Approach

Lead Researcher(s):  E. Eberhardt

Project ID:  2019-014

Key Research Organization(s):  University of British Columbia

Project Location:  Northeast BC

Strategic Focus Area:  Energy-Oil and Gas

Summary



This project combines multiple datasets in a machine learning setting, together with laboratory experiments and numerical simulations, to model the relationship between natural gas operations, geology and seismic activity in the Montney Play in the Northeast Region of British Columbia.

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 processes 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 project is developing an induced seismicity susceptibility map for the Montney Play, a gas-prone area within the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in BC’s Northeast Region that contains some of North America’s most significant natural gas deposits. This map can be used by regulators and the natural gas sector to assess risk from hydraulic fracturing and wastewater disposal operations.

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 relevant public data from oil and gas wells (e.g. well installation, testing and operations);
  • using machine learning to assess data sets;
  • conducting laboratory experiments to guide relationships resulting from machine learning;
  • conducting numerical simulation to confirm relationships and feed into the machine learning algorithms;
  • improving understanding of the factors controlling induced seismicity in the Montney Play;
  • identifying areas needing more focused research; and
  • identifying important factors controlling induced seismicity.

Benefits

Benefits of this project include:

  • a public database of geological and operational data;
  • an anomalous induced seismicity susceptibility map;
  • results from laboratory experiments and numerical simulations supporting results from susceptibility map; and
  • decreased number of felt seismic events.

Location Details

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