More oil, gas spills reported in Weld County

More oil and gas spills are being reported in Weld County following flooding in Colorado’s most productive oil field, including a 323-barrel oil spill on the St. Vrain River.

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: APC) reported the largest spill so far of 323 barrels, or 13,566 gallons, on the St. Vrain River north of Firestone, the Colorado Department of Natural Resources said.

Anadarko also reported Wednesday afternoon that 125 barrels, or 5,250 gallons, had been released into the South Platte River. A damaged oil tank led to the spill, south of Milliken and north of where the St. Vrain River joins the South Platte.

“This is one of the areas seriously impacted by the flood,” Todd Hartman, spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources, said in a statement.

Hartman said Thursday that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission was tracking 10 oil spills, 8 of which appeared minor.

“Minor spills in the context of this situation would be considered spills described as sheens coming off of a piece of equipment rather than a measurable volume of petroleum product,” Hartman said.

Oil companies shut off around 1,800 wells when flooding struck Weld County on Friday, according to the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. Companies have been scrambling to assess what wells were damaged by flood waters.

Anadarko reported its oil spills to the state oil commission and is using absorbent booms in the water, Hartman said. The state will monitor the cleanup.

“In the context of this historic event, these spills are not an unexpected part of many other sources of contamination associated with the flood,” Hartman said. “Those include very large volumes – millions of gallons – of raw, municipal sewage and other hazards associated with households, agriculture, business and industry.”

Anadarko said two damaged tank batteries led to “light-oil releases.” In addition to the state oil commission, the company notified the National Response Center, Environmental Protection Agency and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“We are actively working under the oversight of these agencies to contain and clean up the releases to the greatest extent possible,” the company said in a statement. “We will continue to provide additional information as appropriate.”

More than 600 of Anadarko’s 5,800 wells remain shut off, though the company plans to begin bringing some of the wells back online. The company is evaluating 20 miles of a total of 3,200 miles of pipelines and will resume drilling “as access permits.”

Anadarko is using its Emergency Operations Center with about 20 employees in Denver and more than 150 workers in the region to respond to flooding.

Noble Energy Inc. (NYSE: NBL) also reported Tuesday a natural-gas release from two damaged wells. The company did not know how much gas was released, but said the wells were “low-volume producers.”

“We continue to closely monitor weather and flooding conditions in all areas to ensure safety and environmental protection,” the company said in a statement.

Noble Energy shut off “5 to 10 percent” of its wells.

Encana Corp. (NYSE: ECA) shut off 397 of its 1,241 wells in the Denver-Julesburg Basin, but has brought back online all but 180 wells.

“The six-person environmental inspection team will complete inspections of all facilities today,” Encana spokesman Doug Hock said in an email. “As of last night, no reportable hydrocarbon spills were found.”

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