Six producers settle air pollution charges at eastern Utah sites

Six independent producers agreed to spend $6.4 million to comply with the US Clean Air Act at their eastern Utah natural gas production facilities, federal regulators said on Apr. 17.

Apr 19th, 2009

Six independent producers agreed to spend $6.4 million to comply with the US Clean Air Act at their eastern Utah natural gas production facilities, federal regulators said on Apr. 17.

The three settlements with Bill Barrett Corp., Wind River Corp., XTO Energy Inc., Dominion Exploration and Production Inc., Whiting Oil and Gas Corp. and Miller Dyer and Co. mandate air pollution reductions and conservation practices at the companies' wellheads, pipelines and compressor stations, the US Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice said in a joint announcement.

They said that the agreements cover operations on the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation near Vernal. They were filed in federal district court in Salt Lake City.

The $6.4 million of outlays include retrofitting pneumatic controls with lower emitted components, reviewing processes to increase gas recovery and reduce air emissions at compressor stations and well sites, installing low-bleed or no-bleed pneumatics, and controlling emission sources such as large engines, gas dehydrators and condensate tanks at all new facilities constructed in the next five years, the federal agencies said.

It also includes shale-plating all future access roads, spending $100,000 to fund two ambient air monitoring stations' operation and maintenance for one year, and using less polluting and more energy-efficient new technologies in pilot programs, they added.

The companies also agreed to pay $632,000 in fines and to spend $200,000 on supplemental environmental projects, EPA and DOJ said. They said that complaints which were filed along with the settlements alleged that the producers violated hazardous air pollutant emissions standards; federal permitting, emissions monitoring and reporting requirements, and other Clean Air Act provisions.

EPA said that Dominion E&P and Miller Dyer came forward and discussed their violations under the agency's self-audit program. All of the producers cooperated to resolve the violations, it noted.

The investments will reduce air pollution by more than 1,300 tons annually and conserve enough gas to heat 1,080 homes annually, according to EPA.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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