Post-flood damage assessment continues in Colorado

Updates on the extent of damage to oil and gas drilling and storage equipment remained difficult to ascertain Sept. 19 as government and industry officials worked to assess the aftermath of the flooding caused by torrential rain storms in Colorado.

The US Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability reported the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA) as saying that nearly 1,900 oil and gas wells were shut in by the flooding. The DOE office said operators had started shutting in the majority of their impacted locations when flooding began on Sept. 11. “As of 2 p.m. MDT [Sept. 17], COGA said there were nearly 1,900 wells shut in in the affected areas and more than 600 personnel and crew were inspecting operations, conducting aerial and ground surveillance, identifying and determining locations of possible impairments, and repairing any facilities to mitigate the effects from the storm,” the DOE office said.

In its Energy Assurance Daily (EAD) report, issued Sept. 18, the DOE office updated company-specific developments regarding operational shutins.

The EAD report said Anadarko Petroleum Corp. stated Sept. 18 that 675 of its operated wells were shut in (out of about 5,800 wells in the field) and about 20 miles (of a total of about 3,200 miles) of gathering lines were isolated and undergoing evaluation to ensure integrity. The EAD report said Anadarko expected to bring some of those wells back online Sept. 18, “subject to access, inspection, and infrastructure.”

Separately, the EAD report said Encana Corp. reported that 150 wells that were shut due to the flooding had returned to service, but 245 wells remained shut in. The company, which operates more than 1,200 wells in the Denver-Julesberg (DJ) basin, had originally shut almost 400 wells due to the storm, with 99 returning to service Sept. 17, the EAD report said.

The report noted that COGA Chief Executive Officer Tisha Schuller confirmed reports that “two empty storage tanks were floating, some broken oil pipelines had been shut remotely, and one small mixed oil and water spill was contained at a production site.”

COGCC tracking releases

The Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, meanwhile, reported Sept. 19 that it was tracking 10 oil releases in the flooded areas. “Two of those [releases] are notable; the remaining eight appear to be minor,” COGCC said, adding, “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.”

COGCC reported that five teams of inspectors and environmental protection specialists were in the field on Sept. 18 “canvassing flood impacted areas in the vicinity of Coal Creek, Boulder Creek, St. Vrain, Big Thompson, and the South Platte.” COGCC added that on Sept. 19, six teams were back in the field and one COGCC staff member would be in the air with the Weld County Sheriff’s Department.

The EAD report said COGCC reported Sept. 18 it was “aggressively assessing the impacts of the flood to oil and gas locations by using GIS mapping to identify impacted locations and sending response teams to inspect locations north and south of the South Platte River.”

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