Encana pipeline leak cleanup continues
November 30, 2016
Cleanup is still underway for a pipeline leak discovered in June north of Parachute as Hunter Ridge Energy Services, a subsidiary of Encana Oil & Gas Inc., continues to collect and treat fouled water from a spring.
An enforcement decision is yet to be determined, but state regulators are pushing to see the energy company found in violation of oil and gas regulations. As of Wednesday, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission was processing a notice of alleged violation.
Back in June, Hunter Ridge reported to the COGCC that it had discovered a leak from a pipeline within the East Seward Spring in Garfield County. Carlos Lujan, environmental protection specialist with the Northwest Region of the COGCC, inspected the leak the next day. In his initial inspection he observed that the flowline spilled between 5 and 100 barrels of oil condensate and had begun to threaten the surface water supply area, according to information from the COGCC. He inspected the leak twice more over the next several months.
Since the leak contaminated water, Hunter Ridge has been required to develop a written plan of how this problem will be avoided in the future.
Regulators determined that the operator failed to install pipeline with materials, design and cover sufficient to maintain structural integrity and prevent failure.
After investigation, regulators alleged that Hunter Ridge failed to manage exploration and production wastes in a manner protective of water, causing or threatening significant problems and that the operator failed to ensure that the pipeline was in good mechanical condition.
In his initial report, Lujan stated that hydrocarbons were observed coming from the springs and entering the natural drainage where the water flows north for about a mile to a stock pond. Black staining was observed along the drainage all the way to the pond. Vegetation also appeared to be turning yellow along and at the bottom of the natural drainage.
Encana has been removing contaminated soil from around the spring, creek, pond and spillway and has been conducting an extensive subsurface investigation of the drainage, said Todd Hartman, communications director with the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.
State officials said that the COGCC and the industry work hard to reduce the number of overall spills and stressed that the statewide volume of fluids spilled represents a very small portion of fluids handled.