In Part I and Part II, we showed that each hydraulic fractured well permanently poisons millions of gallons of water. This week a new Duke University study was released, claiming “the amount of water used per well for hydraulic fracturing surged by up to 770 percent between 2011 and 2016 in all major U.S. shale gas and oil production regions.”
Since it has been a while since we’ve gathered this data from FracFocusData, a quick calculation shows Extraction Oil & Gas has used 102,044,434 gallons of water to frack the 10 wells at the Coyote Trails pad just east of Erie, Colorado in unincorporated Weld County.
Once again, let’s say it out loud:
Extraction Oil & Gas has used one hundred two million, forty-four thousand, four hundred and thirty four gallons of water to frack the ten wells at Coyote Trails.
Keep in mind that these 10 wells are just the beginning; 4 Form 2s have already been approved and another 24 are pending for this location.
On February 12, 2018, historical impacts were discovered during abandonment activities at the Champlin 41-4 #1 production facility. The release became State reportable on February 14, 2018, due to the quantity of impacted soil excavated. Soil excavation activities are ongoing and will be summarized in a forthcoming Supplemental Form 19 Spill/Release Report.
Here’s a timeline of the events surrounding the State reportable release at the Champlin 41-4 #1 production facility, operated by Kerr McGee, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Anadarko Petroleum.
Spills/releases of E&P waste or produced fluid exceeding five (5) barrels, including those contained within lined or unlined berms, shall be reported on COGCC Spill/Release Report, Form 19.
While the reported quantity of spilled oil is greater than 5 barrels, an upper bound on the amount spilled has not yet been supplied by the operator. They are required to report this in a supplemental Form 19.
February 16: Town of Erie Notification
On February 16, Anadarko notified the Town of Erie of the spill, which alerted us in the community, at the Erie Protectors, and the media of the incident.
February 18: Denver Post Interview
On February 18, Christiaan van Woudenberg met with Bruce Finley of the Denver Post to take a look at the spill site. Read about it here.
We received the following post from an O&G industry worker on our Facebook page:
Results coming in from air quality tests near Parachute, CO shows “little risk”…”According to the data, all air concentrations of individual and combined volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were below long-term, non-cancer health guideline values established by state and federal agencies.” But I’m sure you and ECBU will find some flaws with the tests to discount the results… Still, it is good to have more data points.
For the purposes of this discussion, let’s refer to the following documents:
In a recent tweet for the Erie Protectors (follow us @ErieProtectors), I mentioned that there are 13,103 producing wells in Weld County alone. Another 8,386 are shut in. Another 4,377 have been plugged & abandoned. Another 1,143 are currently being drilled.
This month, I’d like to focus on the last stage of production – the plug & abandon operation. OSHA has a concise definition of the process :
A well is abandoned when it reaches the end of its useful life or is a dry hole.
The casing and other equipment is removed and salvaged.
Cement plugs are placed in the borehole to prevent migration of fluids between the different formations.
The surface is reclaimed.
By the industry’s own admission, “end-of-well operations are often more difficult than initial well construction.” Let this be a cautionary tale told in three parts.
Crestone Peak Resources began plug & abandon operations at the Vessels Minerals site just east of Aspen Ridge Preparatory School on September 12, 2017. The same day, an observant resident filed a complaint with the COGCC about “an odor that is permeating from the site that can be smelled in the school parking lots.” When the COGCC sent out an inspector the following day, he had this to report in a notice of alleged violation (NOAV):
COGCC Staff also observed […] children playing in the playground and watching the rig crew’s operation, and volatile organic compounds (“VOCs”) visibly drifting toward the children in the playground.”
While Crestone took corrective action the same day and installed emission control equipment, they had every intention of venting VOCs 25 yards from a playground for 8 weeks while they conducted business as usual. The community was only made aware of the NOAV when an Erie Protector found it online almost two months later.
Lessons learned? If you see it, report it. The rules & regulations are inadequate to protect us. The industry has complete disregard for the communities in which they operate.
Our second tale comes from an idyllic suburban development just east of Grandview in Erie. The concept plan for Erie Highlands includes three innocuous “oil & gas site” designations in what appear to be pocket parks and open space. Imagine the surprise of recent owners of near-million dollar properties when fourteen characters on a pretty picture turned into a work over rig less than 100 yards from their back doors, especially when realtors had told them the wells were already plugged.
Our final tale comes from Windsor, where in October 2017 “an old well that was capped in 1984began spilling oil on Colorado 60 east of U.S. 287.” Operators in the region were quick to respond to the well that had been drilled by an unknown operator in the 1920s or 1930s, but “an estimated 5 gallons to 6 gallons every minute” were spilling from the well.
Lessons learned? Oil & gas is forever. This blight upon our neighborhoods, open spaces, and environment has far-reaching implications. Operators come and go, but their impacts will remain long after we forget their names.
For you data heads out there, check out http://www.noggateway.org/explore to see visualizations and export data for oil & gas wells across the county. This web app has the nicest set of tools for extracting data to other sources that I’ve seen thus far.
For example, the attached image shows how Crestone Peak Resources’ production in Colorado has been on the decline since late 2015.
In Part I, we showed how Crestone Peak Resources had used 160,349,639 gallons of water to frack the 13 wells at the Waste Connections and Pratt sites. Sadly, it gets worse. Between the Morgan Hills, Woolley-Becky, and Woolley-Sosa sites, Crestone Peak Resources used 225,137,194 gallons of water to frack 22 wells.
So all together now:
Crestone Peak Resources has used three hundred eighty-five million, four hundred eighty-six thousand, eight hundred thirty-three gallons of water to drill 35 wells on five pads in Erie, Colorado.
Recently, we stumbled upon FracFocus, an additional resource linked from the COGCC complaint site. FracFocus allows the public to view “Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Product Component Information Disclosure” documents that include some summary information for each well, as well as a detailed chemical composition of the fluids injected at each well head. We ran the numbers for Waste Connections and Pratt, and came up with a single catastrophic statistic: 160,349,639 gallons of water.
With the support of neighbors from surrounding communities, Erie residents voiced their concerns about the volatile organic compounds released at the plug & abandon operations near Aspen Ridge Preparatory School and the Kiddie Academy of Erie.
ac·tiv·ist noun /ˈæk.tə.vɪst/a person who believes strongly in political or social change and takes part in activities such as public protests to try to make this happen http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/activist