Residents of Pecos wonder why they’re shaking all over
The residents of Pecos are keenly aware of a recent phenomenon: Earthquakes are shaking their beds.
Four more hit the oil and gas town of 10,000 just last week, epicenters all clustered down U.S. 285, the road to Fort Stockton.
Residents, many of whom grew up in the industry, are slow to point fingers. But some have begun to ask if oil and gas wastewater disposal wells are causing the quakes. One even asked the city council to act on the matter. The council has not. “We don’t know for sure what’s causing them,” Pecos Mayor Venetta Seals said. “Everybody has a different opinion on it.” Apache fights wells Apache Corp., pulling a tactic from the playbook of environmental activists, is protesting another company’s application to inject oil and gas wastewater deep underground, hoping to prevent that company from contaminating aquifers or causing earthquakes.
Houston-based Apache has fastidiously managed its own use of water — and image — while developing its new West Texas play, Alpine High, over the past year.
The issue: As oil flows up and out of the ground, it brings with it millions of gallons of salty water. All of that water, usually laden with chemicals, has to go somewhere. The most common practice in Texas is to re-inject it deep underground. But many fear that such a practice, when done poorly, pollutes groundwater or causes earthquakes.
Apache, which itself injects wastewater to dispose of it, doesn’t want its good name ruined. So the company has begun filing protests with the state to block other companies from injecting waste into wells near Alpine High.
One of the most recent such letters, sent Aug. 15, protests an application submitted by Dallas oil and gas company Primexx Operating Corp. Apache says Primexx’s plans could threaten water resources.
Primexx declined to comment. Speaking of shale ...
Analysts expect a hot market for BHP Billiton’s shale acreage.
The world’s largest mining company had bought big into shale just six years ago, spending $20 billion for land in the Eagle Ford, Permian, Haynesville and Fayetteville plays. Then, last week, executives unceremoniously dropped the bomb that their assets weren’t making enough money and would be sold off.
But BHP’s loss may end up a gain for Texas energy companies hungry for more prime shale acreage.
Energy research firm Wood Mackenzie said it expected substantial interest from buyers. Private Equity firms, U.S. independent oil companies, the majors and even national oil companies will all want a seat at the table, said Jon Weintraub, a research analyst at Wood Mackenzie.
Houston energy investment firm Tudor Pickering Holt predicts one buyer. Anadarko Petroleum Corp., based in The Woodlands, owns acreage checkerboarded alongside BHP’s best land, in the Permian’s Delaware Basin.
“We don’t know what’s causing them. Everybody has a different opinion on it.” Pecos Mayor Venetta Seal, on the recent quakes