Alberta Energy Regulator shuts down fracking operations after earthquake

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FOX CREEK, A.B. — After a magnitude 4.8 earthquake occurred near Fox Creek on Tuesday, a hydraulic fracturing operation near the town has been shut down.

According to CBC News, Alberta Energy Regulator ordered the shutdown of the Repsol Oil & Gas site 35 kilometres north of Fox Creek, after reports of an earthquake came in at 11:27 a.m.

In a statement, Repsol confirmed the seismic activity and confirmed the company was conducting hydraulic fracturing operations at the time it happened.

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“The company is investigating the event, which includes reviewing and analyzing available geological and geophysical data, as well as the onsite seismic monitoring data,” the statement says.

“Operations will not resume at this location until a full assessment of the event has been completed and approval has been received from the AER.”

Fox Creek, between Grande Prairie and Edmonton, seen in relation to Fort St. John. [Credit: Google Maps]
Fox Creek, between Grande Prairie and Edmonton, seen in relation to Fort St. John. [Credit: Google Maps]
Spokeswoman for the regulator, Carrie Rosa, told CBC the company has ceased operations, and they will not be allowed to resume operations until AER has approved their plans. She added that the company is working with AER to ensure all environmental and safety rules are followed, and that there were no reports of injury or damage.

Similar to the BC Oil and Gas Commission, the energy regulator automatically shuts down a fracking site when an earthquake hits a magnitude of 4.0 or higher in the area in which a company is operating.

The B.C. OGC confirmed late last year a 4.6 quake in August was caused by fracking. Progress Energy had been working on the site, and was ordered to stop all work after the quake occurred.

Camille Brillon, a seismologist with Natural Resources Canada, told CBC it’s too soon to tell if this quake is related to fracking. “It was a light earthquake that would have been felt.”

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