Oil and gas activity may have caused Alberta earthquake in 2022 - study

·1 min read

(Reuters) - One of the strongest earthquakes in the history of Canada's Alberta was likely caused by the underground disposal of wastewater by the oil industry, researchers at Stanford University and University of Alberta suggested in a study.

The new findings contradict a preliminary statement from the Alberta Energy Regulator that said the earthquake was a natural event.

"We are aware of the study, and we are continuing to investigate these events ... due to the nature of seismic monitoring, any information should be considered preliminary until the investigation is complete," the Alberta Energy Regulator said in an emailed statement.

The study, published on Thursday, found that the injection of wastewater from oil sands operations in the area increased pressure in a fault area and likely triggered the earthquake.

"The oil and natural gas industry takes induced seismicity very seriously. Protecting the public, workers and infrastructure is a priority. We are currently reviewing the Stanford study," said Jay Averill, spokesperson for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) in an emailed statement.

A series of earthquakes had struck Peace River, Alberta, in November last year, with the biggest registering at 5.6 in magnitude.

Researchers mentioned that the results of the study would have implications for carbon dioxide storage as well.

Energy firms are currently betting on carbon-capture projects that trap carbon dioxide generated from industrial activity, transport it, and then store it underground.

(Reporting by Sourasis Bose in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)