The authorities of Rongxian, in Sichuan province, ordered the temporary cessation of operations with the use of frackingafter three earthquakes with magnitudes ranging from 4.6 to 4.9 shook the town located in southwest China on February 24 and 25.
The phenomena left at least two dead, 12 injured, 13,360 victims, 10,911 homes with partial and total damage, as well as breakdowns in five water reserves.
The Chinese news portalJQK New He pointed out that the decision to suspend activities does not imply the authorities' acceptance that the earthquakes are linked to the extraction of gas from shales, but rather that they respond to safety reasons.
The Associated Press mentioned that the Sichuan Earthquake Administration ruled in the same direction, which ruled out thefracking as the cause of the earthquakes and claimed that the region had been seismically active for purely natural reasons.
While the French newspaperLe Monde He said several Chinese experts on Monday refused to link the gas operation to the earthquakes, but did not say there was no cause-and-effect relationship. Residents of Rongxian had demanded an end to the application of thefracking, a technique that they pointed out as responsible for what happened.
This is not the first time something like this has happened in that country. According to the Chinese newspaperGlobal Times, in November 2018, before an online campaign in which seismic activity was linked to thefracking, the Zigong Earthquake Administration stated that "more scientific studies are needed on whether recent earthquakes are related to shale gas exploitation, as the world is still unclear."
The United States Geological Survey, cited byThe Associated Press, argues that the reports of hydraulic fractures that cause earthquakes that are perceived on the surface are "extremely rare", although the wastewater produced in the process offracking they can cause induced earthquakes when injected into deep wells.
China has the world's largest shale gas deposits, or 26 trillion square meters.
The Sichuan basin is one of the three with the highest gas potential in China, in the Rongxian area the depth of shale formation varies between 2000 and 3000 meters.
According to forecasts, by 2035 this resource will represent a quarter of the total gas produced globally and the Asian country will be the main supplier.
Global Times, 02/25/2019. County govt halts shale exploitation after earthquakes
JQK News, 02/25/2019. Should Shale Gas Exploitation in Southern Sichuan be directly responsible for frequent earthquakes in Rongxian County?
Le Monde, 02/26/2019. L’exploitation du gaz de schiste en question après several seísmes dans le Sichuan
New York Times, 02/25/2019. China County Suspends Fracking After Quakes Worry Residents
With information from: