Since March 2018, the Red Deer region has experienced earthquakes connected to nearby hydraulic fracturing activities. The following requirements have been developed to manage the potential risk of induced seismicity from hydraulic fracturing within the Red Deer region.
Companies in the area must comply with Subsurface Order No. 7, which imposes monitoring, reporting, and setback requirements,in the region. Operators are required to manage the hazard of induced earthquakes before, during, and after hydraulic fracturing.
The order prohibits hydraulic fracturing within five kilometres of the Dickson Dam (50 kilometres southwest of Red Deer) if drilling operations are targeting the Duvernay Formation or below. Our monitoring has determined that earthquakes are more likely to occur when companies hydraulically fracture in deeper geological formations like the Duvernay.
Under the order, drilling operations that target formations above the Duvernay Formation (e.g. Cardium, Rock Creek, and Falher Formations) must have traffic light systems, hazard assessments, and response plans in place.
In addition to the order, we have a number of requirements in place to protect subsurface and wellbore integrity during hydraulic fracturing. Directive 083: Hydraulic Fracturing – Subsurface Integrity addresses the hydraulic fracturing risk to subsurface well integrity.
Companies operating near the Dickson Dam must follow a traffic light system to monitor and respond to seismic activity. The traffic light system outlines three thresholds based on seismic magnitude and indicates the appropriate response for drillers for each threshold.
- Seismic event of less than 1.0 local magnitude (ML): no action is required by the operator.
- Seismic event of 1.0 ML or greater: the operator must immediately report the event to the AER and implement their response plan.
- Seismic event of 3.0 ML or greater: the operator must immediately cease operations and report it to us. They cannot resume operations without our approval.
We use over 50 seismic monitoring systems to measure and research earthquakes and other seismic activity across Alberta. To help ensure the safe, orderly, and environmentally responsible development of energy resources, we will monitor and evaluate the performance of Subsurface Order No. 7.
As we learn more about the Duvernay Formation and the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and seismic activity, we will amend the subsurface order if evidence suggests that adjustments are needed.
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Seismic events of 3.0 ML or greater in the Red Deer region are included on our Compliance Dashboard.
Further information can be found using our Alberta Interactive Seismic Events Map.