Oklahoma earthquake: Are oil storage terminals safe from shaking?

Oklahoma earthquake: A magnitude 5.0 near one of the world's largest oil storage terminals on Sunday evening has triggered concerns that key infrastructure may have been damaged.

This image made from video provided by KFOR-TV shows damage on a street in Cushing, Okla., after an earthquake Sunday.

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake struck Oklahoma Sunday evening, the epicenter focused just a mile west of Cushing, which houses one of the world’s largest oil storage facilities.

Building facades in the city’s downtown area crumbled and windows shattered, stoking fears that key infrastructure related to the energy industry may also have suffered damage.

This is just the most recent in a series of thousands of earthquakes to have afflicted the state over the past few years, almost all of which are blamed upon activities related to oil and gas production. Some of this relates to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, but most is linked to the practice of injecting wastewater from oil production into the ground.

Officials reported a few injuries in the immediate aftermath of this latest tremor and ordered some areas evacuated, but the damage appeared limited to commercial buildings in the city center.

The town, which houses nearly 8,000 people, lies about 50 miles northeast of Oklahoma City, but Sunday’s earthquake was reportedly felt as far away as Iowa, Texas, and Illinois. Just last week, another quake, magnitude 4.3, struck 25 miles further north, forcing several oil wells to shut down. About two months ago, one of the strongest ever recorded in Oklahoma – magnitude 5.6 –shook the area around Perry, just northwest of Cushing.

Earthquakes are generally natural phenomena, but scientists are linking more and more of them to underground oil and gas work, which has the ability to alter pressure points, thereby causing shifts in the Earth. Indeed, the Oklahoma Geological Survey released a report last year declaring that many of the earthquakes assailing the state are caused by injection into the ground of wastewater from oil production.

The controversial practice of fracking employs similar methods, injecting water, sand, and chemicals under high pressure into rock to facilitate the extraction of natural gas and other products. Yet the geological survey’s report said just a small percentage of wastewater injected into Oklahoma’s wells comes from fracking.

The Cushing quake is one of the largest to strike the state, and officials are still liaising with energy companies to determine what damage may have been inflicted. The countryside surrounding the city houses tanks containing 58.5 million barrels of oil, as of Oct. 28, one of the world’s largest oil storage terminals. The town bills itself as the “Pipeline Crossroads of the World.”

This report included material from the Associated Press and Reuters.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Oklahoma earthquake: Are oil storage terminals safe from shaking?
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today