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Energy Technologies


1. Injection pressures and net fluid volumes in energy technologies, such as geothermal energy and oil and gas production, are generally controlled to avoid increasing pore pressure in the reservoir above the initial reservoir pore pressure. These technologies thus appear less problematic in terms of inducing felt seismic events than technologies that result in a significant increase or decrease in net fluid volume.

2. The induced seismic responses to injection or extraction differ in cause and magnitude among each of the three different forms of geothermal resources. Decrease of the temperature of the subsurface rocks caused by injection of cold water in a geothermal field has the potential to produce seismic events.

3. The potential for felt induced seismicity due to secondary recovery and EOR is low.

4. The process of hydraulic fracturing a well as presently implemented for shale gas recovery does not pose a high risk for inducing felt seismic events.

5. The United States currently has approximately 30,000 Class II1 wastewater disposal wells among a total of 151,000 Class II injection wells (which includes injection wells for both secondary recovery and EOR). Very few felt seismic events have been reported as either caused by or temporally associated with wastewater disposal wells; these events have produced felt earthquakes generally less than M 4.0. Reducing injection volumes, rates, and pressures has been successful in decreasing rates of seismicity associated with wastewater injection.

6. The proposed injection volumes of liquid CO2 in large-scale sequestration projects are much larger than those associated with other energy technologies. There is no experience with fluid injection at these large scales and little data on seismicity associated with CO2 pilot projects. If the reservoirs behave in a similar manner to oil and gas fields, these large net volumes may have the potential to impact the pore pressure over vast areas. Relative to other energy technologies, such large spatial areas may have potential to increase both the number and the magnitude of seismic events.


Because of the lack of experience with large-scale fluid injection for CCS, continued research supported by the federal government is needed on the potential for induced seismicity in large-scale CCS projects (see Box S.1). As part of a continued research effort,


1 Class II wells are specifically those that address injection of brines and other fluids associated with oil and gas production and hydrocarbons for storage.

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