4.3 magnitude earthquake shakes Red Deer area, regulator investigating if fracking is cause of tremor

Vesta Energy hydraulic fracturing operations south of Sylvan Lake have been shut down while the provincial regulator investigates an earthquake that occurred at 5:55 a.m. Mountain Time.

A spokesperson for the Alberta Energy Regulation (AER) said in an email that the agency is “currently reviewing the events of this morning’s earthquake,” which measured 4.32 magnitude and was detected approximately 12 kilometres south of Sylvan Lake, to determine if the incident is due to hydraulic fracturing activities or natural causes.

At this time, there have been no reported impacts to public safety, infrastructure, or the environment, according to the AER.

AER protocols require fracking operations be suspended if an earthquake is detected that is greater than 4.0. Greater than 2.0 but less than 4.0 requires the operator to inform the AER and invoke the required seismic activity “response plan.”

Environment Canada recorded the earthquake as a 4.6 magnitude, according to the agency’s website.

The event was reported to the AER at 6:20 a.m. by Vesta Energy, which operates in the Joffre Duvernay shale oil basin.

The Calgary-based company’s website says assets include a material land base of over 290,000 net acres and, as of the end of 2018, 84 wells on-stream producing over 12,000 boe/day.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.


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