Written by John McFarland of the Oil and Gas Lawyer Blog.
Last year the Texas legislature passed House Bill 2, including a supplemental appropriation of $4.5 million to fund a study of the causes of earthquakes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The funds are being used to purchase and run seismic monitoring equipment and analysis of data to test the connection between oil and gas activity in the area and recent seismic activity. The legislation also required the governor to name a technical advisory committee to advise on the project, which is led by the University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology. Yesterday, the governor named the members of the advisory committee:
Robie Vaughn of Dallas will chair the advisory committee. Vaughan is the owner of Vaughn Capital Partners, LLC. He is a co-founder and member of the Dallas Producers Club and member of the Dallas Petroleum Club and of the Society of International Business Fellows. He is a member of The University of Texas System Chancellor’s Council Executive Committee, Harry Ransom Center Advisory Board and the McDonald Observatory and Department of Astronomy Board of Visitors and a life member of The University of Texas at Austin Development Board, President’s Associates, Texas Exes and Texas Cowboys Alumni Association. Additionally, he is a member of the Athletics Longhorn Foundation Advisory Council, and the Culver Educational Foundation Board of Trustees. In addition, he served on The Commission of 125 as co-chair of the Resources and Infrastructure Committee for The University of Texas at Austin in 2003-2004. Vaughn received a Bachelor of Business Administration from The University of Texas at Austin.
Dan Hill of College Station is a professor and the Stephen A. Holditch Department Head Chair of the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University. He is a Distinguished Member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) and a member of its board of directors, and is a technical editor for the SPE Productions and Operations Journal. Additionally, he is a member of several SPE committees, including the Global Training Committee, International Faculty Achievement Award Committee, Hydraulic Fracturing Technology Program Committee and the Asia Pacific Hydraulic Fracturing Program Committee. Hill received a Bachelor of Science from Texas A&M University and a Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin.
Chris Hillman of Irving is city manager for the City of Irving. He is a member of the International City/County Management Association and the Texas City Management Association. Hillman received a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Public Administration from Brigham Young University.
Dana Jurick of Houston is manager of Seismic Analysis for the Geoscience and Reservoir Engineering Organization at ConocoPhillips Company. He is a member of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, and he was honorably discharged from the United States Army Reserve. Jurick received a Bachelor of Science from Syracuse University and a Master of Science from The University of Texas at El Paso.
Hal Macartney of Irving is geoscience manager of Sustainable Development for Pioneer Natural Resources. He is a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, American Geophysical Union, Seismological Society of America, Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists and the Society of Petroleum Engineers. Macartney received a Bachelor of Arts from Dartmoth College.
Kris Nygaard of Houston is senior stimulation consultant for ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company. He is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, Society of Mechanical Engineers, Seismological Society of America and the Tau Beta Pi National Engineering Honor Society. Nygaard received a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Arizona.
Craig Pearson of Midland is the State Seismologist for the Railroad Commission of Texas. He is a member of the American Geophysical Union, Seismological Society of America, American Association of Petroleum Geologists and the International Society Explosives Engineers. Pearson received a Bachelor of Science from The University of Texas Permian Basin and a Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy from Southern Methodist University.
Brian Stump of McKinney is a professor and the Albritton Chair of Geological Sciences at Southern Methodist University. He is a member of the Seismological Society of America, Society of Exploration Geophysicists, International Society Explosives Engineers and the American Geophysical Union. Additionally, he is a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and the American Association for Advancement of Science. Stump received a Bachelor of Arts from Linfield College and a Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley.
Scott Tinker of Austin is the State Geologist of Texas, director of the Bureau of Economic Geology, acting Associate Dean of Research and Edwin Allday Endowed Chair of Subsurface Geology and professor at The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences. Additionally, he is director of the Advanced Energy Consortium. He is a past president of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Association of American State Geologists, Austin Geological Society, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies, and current president of the American Geosciences Institute, representing over 250,000 geoscientists worldwide. He is a certified Professional Geoscientist in Texas, holds appointments on the National Petroleum Council and Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, and is a member of numerous other professional societies and boards. He is a fellow of the Geological Society of America, trustee associate of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Foundation and trustee of the American Geological Institute Foundation and the Association of American State Geologists Foundation. Tinker received a Bachelor of Science from Trinity University, Master of Science from the University of Michigan and Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Colorado.
Last year, professors from Southern Methodist University published a peer-reviewed scientific paper connecting seismic events near Azle, Texas, in the Barnett Shale, to two disposal wells in the area. The paper concluded that the Azle quakes were “most likely” caused by the injection wells. Brian Stump, the SMU professor named to the advisory committee, was an author of the paper. Subsequently, the Texas Railroad Commission held “show-cause” hearings, requiring the companies who operate the disposal wells named in the paper to “show cause” why their wells should not be shut down or curtailed. The companies, XTO and Enervest, presented evidence at the hearings contradicting the conclusions of the SMU scientists. The Railroad Commission subsequently ruled that there was not enough evidence link the disposal well activities to the earthquake activity and declined to take any action against the companies.
In contrast to Texas, regulators in Oklahoma have imposed significant restrictions on disposal wells in response to increased seismic activity in that state.