There is a decades-old debate going on around the world as to whether oil extraction procedures can cause earthquakes. A recent earthquake in Oklahoma in the US saw experts voice concerns that some activities involved in oil extraction might well trigger earthquakes, while oil industry played down the potential.
One of the most important things in figuring out whether oil extraction causes tremors is to keep a record of these. Khansi agrees. “I have advised the Ministry of Natural Resources many times to make oil companies install seismographs so that any tremors can be monitored and so we can get information on whether earthquakes may be increased here,” he notes. “Unfortunately they haven’t taken that advice seriously.”
Khansi agrees that as yet, there have been no radical differences in earthquakes in Iraqi Kurdistan. “But,” he argues, “with plans to increase oil production to one million barrels a day by 2015 that is sure to lead to some kind of geological imbalance.”
As the British newspaper, the Guardian recently wrote: “With an estimated 45bn barrels of reserves – the fourth largest in the world – and a century's worth of natural gas, the Kurdistan regional government has become a big player in a geologically exciting but politically sensitive market. Hydrocarbon wealth is transforming this strategic corner of the Middle East,” they concluded.
Experts like Khansi and others just hope that the transformation can be a careful and managed one – and without any man-made earthquakes.