Seismicity Response

The RRC has authority to regulate saltwater disposal ("SWD") well activity and may exercise that authority to address seismic activity [see 16 Texas Administrative Code §3.9 (6)(A)(vi) and §3.46 (d)(1)(f)]. These rules state that RRC may modify, suspend, or terminate an injection permit to dispose of waste for just cause after notice and opportunity for hearing, if injection is likely to be or determined to be contributing to seismic activity. Below is a list of areas in which the Commission has taken action in response to seismicity.

Gardendale (Midland-Odessa)

December 2021

On October 26, 2021, a 3.6 M earthquake occurred northeast of Odessa and subsequently  a 3.5 M earthquake occurred north of Midland on November 16, 2021. In response to continued seismicity within the Gardendale SRA, RRC has taken a focused response and required seven deep disposal wells with the Gardendale SRA that are within 3 miles of a 3.0 M earthquake to suspend injection effective December 15, 2021, until further notice:
  • Map Index 17 - COG Operating LLC (ConocoPhillips), Ratliff A #3004SW
  • Map Index 19 - COG Operating LLC, Johnson Ranch #16SW
  • Map Index 28 - Environmental Dspl Systems, LLC, Northwest Midland SWD #1WD
  • Map Index 30 - Eureka Prospecting Company, Ratliff Ranch 'A' #5A
  • Map Index 36 - FDL Operating, LLC, Gardendale 8 SWD #1
  • Map Index 63 - Rattler Midstream Operating LLC, Dirt Devil #1D
  • Map Index 68 - Solaris Water Midstream, DJK 48 SWD #1

Map of the Gardendale SRA - Focus Response PDF icon

September 2021

Between February 2020 and September 2021, six felt earthquakes of magnitude (M) 3.5 or greater have occurred in an area of the Midland Basin from northeast Ector County to southwest Martin County known as the Gardendale Seismic Response Area (SRA). These included a M 3.7 earthquake in southwestern Martin County, about eight miles northwest of Midland, on September 7, 2021, and two M 3.6 earthquakes northeast of Odessa in February 2020 and May 2021.  

The RRC staff’s analysis of available information has determined that SWD well injection likely contributes to seismic activity in the Gardendale SRA. Therefore, in September 2021, the RRC requested that operators in the Gardendale SRA reduce SWD activity as a means of altering the conditions contributing to seismic activity. Further, the RRC requested SWD wells that have been permitted but are not in service (not drilled, or not completed for or currently capable of injection), do not begin or return to fluid injection, and RRC will not administratively approve a permit for SWD within the Gardendale SRA. RRC anticipates these procedures to be in place for at least a year from initiation. To communicate these changes, operators of SWD wells within the Gardendale SRA were sent letters and a Notice to Oil and Gas Operators was issued.

You can view the Gardendale SRA, SWD wells and land surveys within the SRA using the following documents: 

Daily injection well volume and pressure reporting required in the Gardendale SRA should be done using the following spreadsheet: 

Northern Culberson-Reeves - October 2021

Since January 1, 2020, 15 magnitude (M) 4.0 or greater earthquakes have occurred in northern Culberson and Reeves Counties. Six (6) of these M 4.0 or greater earthquakes were experienced in a one-month period between September 3, 2021, and October 3, 2021, an unprecedented frequency of significant earthquakes in a localized area of Texas. The RRC staff’s analysis of available information has determined that SWD well injection is likely contributing to seismic activity in this area. 

Staff has established the Northern Culberson-Reeves (NCR) Seismic Response Area (SRA) to coordinate action with industry to reduce the seismic hazard in the SRA. RRC has established the following goal to reduce earthquake activity in the NCR SRA. The successful implementation of a response plan will result in no more M 3.5 or greater earthquakes after 18 months from the date of implementation. Staff will use available public data and trends (for example, earthquake count, earthquake magnitude, and disposal volume) to evaluate the efficacy of a response plan. Absent a coordinated industry response, RRC staff is prepared to implement its own seismic response action plan (SRAP) for the NCR SRA after 90 days.

You can view the NCR SRA and SWD wells within the SRA using the following documents: