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Mark: Hey, folks let’s learn something new about the oil and gas industry.

All right. Today, we are very, very lucky. We have Mike Brudzinski. How are you doing, Mike?

Mike: Good. How about you?

Mark: I’m doing awesome. And, Mike is not only a wonderful human being, but he’s also a listener to the podcast. And, Mike did something that – that I just I love when our viewers or listeners do. We reported on the podcast some facts on earthquakes and quite frankly I was wrong and Mike you reached back out to us.

Mike: Yeah. I told James that when I – when I first talk with him that – that when you were talking on the podcast I was actually going out on the car, “No. No, no, don’t say that, Mark.” But, look, I felt like, you know what? You guys had set up a culture on your show and I – I think it reflects what you guys truly believe that – that, you know, let’s – let’s make sure we hear from folks if we got something wrong, reach out to us let us know. We’re happy to hear about it and happy to discuss it. And, you know, I’m here today because you guys believe in that that —

You know and it’s – and I think the opinions that you expressed are – were what the industry felt I think pervasively, you know, three, five years ago. And I think folks have just started to come around that, you know, there’s enough data now scientifically to be able to say no, actually there does appear to be some cases where there’s a link between oil and gas operations and earthquakes. And so, let’s attack it let’s figure out what’s going on and let’s – let’s try and reduce our risks let’s try improve how well the industry operates.

Mark: Yeah. And so, for people that watch my blog, if you don’t listen to the podcast you got no idea what we’re talking about.

Mike: [Laughs]

Mark: So, basically I reported the fact that there is no correlation between fracking operations wastewater disposal and the increase in seismic activity in the US. And you reach out and says, “Mark, actually, now there is.” Let’s talk about that for a second.

Mike: Yeah, sure. So, yeah, I mean, you know, even just, you know, five years ago there’s just wasn’t enough data to be able to say and so, I think that’s why the industry was  — was, you know, look, I have no reason to believe this, you know, please, you know, don’t, you know, show me some evidence, right? And so, I think that’s what folks have collected over last five years is a lot of evidence to show that, yes, there just are some cases where wastewater disposal in particular has led to some earthquakes.

I think the cases where fracking itself has led to earthquake is a much smaller amount. I mean, again, I think the primary thing that we’re sort of focus on right now is trying to – to figure out what are the best ways to deal with wastewater disposal such that it won’t lead to earthquakes. But, even still I think we’re talking still about a small percentage of wells that are producing earthquakes.

But, in a place like Oklahoma I think we don’t quite know yet what – what the relationship is. There are so many earthquakes happening in Oklahoma, there are so many wells operating in Oklahoma that trying to sort of figure out what’s the best way to mitigate I think all of us are still trying to figure that part out. But, in places like Ohio where I live there’s a – there’s not as much operation and so that has made it a little bit easier for us to try and study the problem here because it’s a little bit easier and there’s only a handful of earthquakes that have occurred and we’ve been able to hide them to specific wells in operations, so that has helped us to figure out what’s going on.

Mark: Yeah. And so, Mike tell us a little bit of your background because we don’t want our viewers think you’re some guy off the street that…

Mike: [Laughs]

Mark: …sprouting seismic data. So, talk a little bit about your stuff.

Mike: Sure. So, I’m a professor at Miami University in Ohio. I’ve been here a little over ten years now and this is the – I’ve been studying earthquakes my whole scientific career. But, these kinds of earthquakes is not something that I – I have spent most of my career on, that was only a handful of years ago now that there was this earthquake about a magnitude 4 that happened near the Youngstown area in Oklahoma. And so, that’s a very unusual place to see an earthquake of that size, there are no known faults or any previous earthquakes in that area, but there was wastewater disposal well in that area.

And so, people had – by the time that 4 had happened, people are already concerned that the disposal and that well was producing some smaller events down in the sort of magnitude 2 range. And, in fact, the 4 – magnitude 4 happened the day after they shut down the well.  So, the reason that is is that the stresses associated with injecting just shut off as soon as you turn the well off. So, there’s still a pretty amazing correlation.

One of the studies we’ve done is to look at the volume that was injected into that well and the number of earthquakes and they track remarkably well between the two. So, there weren’t any earthquakes, they turned on the well, the earthquake started, how much they injected is how many earthquakes they’ve got. It’s a remarkable correlation. That, had me convinced at that point that wow, something really is going on here. And I was skeptical at that point as any good scientist should be skeptical of these things.

But, yeah, I mean the data has really changed our minds that there is a correlation and it’s, you know, it’s still not something that hap – and we have hundreds of  wastewater disposal wells in Ohio and only a handful have shown any relationship to seismicity. So, that’s – that’s part of what drew me into this and I’ve been very intrigued by the variety of things that we’ve seen as we dig deeper into this problem.

Mark: Yeah. And so, it’s a good point you brought up. So, there is definitely correlation, but you don’t want to alarm people. It’s not like this huge correlation, it is a correlation. And so, bright minds like you and others scientists out there looking at this hopefully the oil and gas industry will figure this out and figure how to mitigate some of these risks.

But this is just an awesome reach out on your part to help educate us and now, you’re helping to educate our audience, right? So now, we have the facts.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah. I mean that’s part of why I think what you guys are doing is great that you’re trying to spread good information amongst the community and I think that’s what social media should do in it’s sort of optimal status is to spread good information such that people are not trying to make decisions without enough information.

And so, I think, you know, part of the reason I, you know, I’m trying to make a concerted effort to let people know about this is I think industry can – can deal with this that I mean this is, you know, there are a lot of smart people and you talk about this a lot on the show. There are a lot of smart people in this industry and so, they seem to be aware that this is a potential issue much like any risk there is associated with this industry, right?

You know from – from, you know, tank truck driving, you know, whether it’s, you know, near the well, all kinds of things that people sort of deal with in terms of risk assessment and ways to better mitigate it, this is just one of those things. And so, we’re just trying to provide enough data so that people can, you know, spend an appropriate amount of time and money to mitigate this problem, right? We don’t want to overspend, we don’t want to underspend, you know, we want to get it right and so, that’s why we’re trying to help with that sort of data.

Mark:  Yeah. And, with an industry full of engineers and geoscientists, I think we by ourselves we can link this problem as well and mitigate a lot of that risks.

So, Mike if people wanted to learn more about you and what you do and maybe even understand how maybe you can help their companies, how should – how should people reach out to you?

Mike: Yeah. So, you know, again, university professor at Miami and so, that’s one of the ways to contact us.  But, you know, as we started to know industry folks a little bit more, we recognize there are some cases where folks are a little shy to – to deal with somebody at a public university and I fully understand that.

Now, for some of the folks just reading the sort of research that we’ve done, people can go out and can obtain the – the papers that we published the manuscripts that have gone through peer review and that’s a difficult process, so that’s what are the [best] things that we have in our industry is try to do – to get our studies though peer reviews.

So, folks – if folks are interested in some of the studies that we’ve done, they should feel free to contact me, you know just send an e-mail to me at the university. But we also recognize that that some folks, you know, would rather, you know, have a private consultant. And so, we’ve – we’ve come up with a way to deal with that as well that a colleague of mine here and I have generated an LLC. So, we – it’s a Geoseismic Analytics and so, we’re – we’re trying to provide an opportunity for folks to get good information good consulting on how to deal with this problem and do it in a totally private way. And so, that’s another way that folks can – can contact me is through that – that company.

Mark: So, folks we’ll put a links in the show notes so you don’t have to write notes. This way you can just click and you can reach out to Mike in his university address or his LLC.

Mike, dude man, thank you so much for being in our show today. I really appreciate your time.

Mike:  Oh, no problem, Mark. I appreciate what you’re doing and thanks for the time.  I really appreciate it.

Mark: This is awesome. Okay, folks I hope this helped. We will see you next time.