January 31, 2015 4:03 pm
Updated: January 31, 2015 9:17 pm

Fracking possible cause of earthquake near Fox Creek


WATCH ABOVE: The Alberta Energy Regulator says earthquakes in northern Alberta earlier this month were likely linked to nearby fracking operations. 

EDMONTON — A 4.4 magnitude earthquake recorded near Fox Creek last week was possibly caused by hydraulic fracturing, according to the Alberta Energy Regulator.

The earthquake happened on Thursday, Jan. 22 about 30 kilometres west of Fox Creek and was lightly felt in the town of 2,000 people.

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“The location of the earthquake near Fox Creek is consistent with being induced by hydraulic fracturing operations,” said AER spokesperson Cara Tobin. “The occurrence of a cluster of earthquakes preceding this larger earthquake suggests that it is an induced earthquake.”

Tobin added that it is, however, impossible to “definitively state” that it was not a naturally occurring earthquake.

READ MORE: History of earthquakes in Alberta

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture rocks, releasing oil and gas.

Tobin said the AER monitors seismic activity across the province and requires companies to do the same.

“It’s something that we include in the rules for developing these resources in Alberta and it’s a requirement that they monitor for seismicity,” she said. “This is, I suppose, a reminder that companies need to continue to be diligent in their operations and in monitoring their operations.

“The AER regards all changes in seismicity that have the potential to indicate an increased risk associated with hydrocarbon production seriously,” Tobin added.

According to Natural Resources Canada there were two earthquakes that were felt near Fox Creek in January. The Jan. 22 quake happened at 11:49 p.m. The other earthquake was recorded on Wednesday, Jan. 14. The 3.8 magnitude quake happened at 9:06 a.m. 38 kilometres west of Fox Creek.

While both quakes were felt in Fox Creek, Tobin said there were no impacts to the public or environment.

Fox Creek is located about 260 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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