The B.C. Oil and Gas Commission is shutting down oilfield fracking operations for at least 30 days in an area of the province’s northeast while it investigates earthquakes that occurred there on Nov. 29.
The regulator says the seismic events measuring between 3.4 and 4.5 magnitude took place near hydraulic fracturing operations being conducted about 20 kilometres southeast of Fort St. John by Calgary-based Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.
It says the company immediately suspended that work and it won’t be allowed to resume without the written consent of the commission.
According to Natural Resources Canada, the 4.5 magnitude earthquake was felt in Fort St. John, Taylor, Chetwynd and Dawson Creek but did no damage. It was followed by two smaller aftershocks.
Hydraulic fracturing involves injecting large amounts of water, sand and chemicals into a well to break up tight rock underground and allow trapped oil and gas to flow.
The technology, along with injecting oilfield liquids into disposal wells, have been linked by the B.C. commission to previous incidents of « induced seismicity, » although it notes on its website none of the events in B.C. have resulted in hazards to safety or the environment or property damage.