Another Record Number of Spills in Weld County

We previously wrote about a record number of oil & gas spills in Weld County for January 2024, and have a disappointing update … a record 132 spills were reported for May 2024, the most ever, representing 87% of all the spills reported for the month in Colorado.

See these spills on a map of Weld County.

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Draco OGDP Cumulative Impacts Analysis

Now that the Draco OGDP application has been deemed complete by the ECMC, the documents submitted with the application are available to view/download. Here, we’re taking an opportunity to analyze the submitted Form 2B Cumulative Impacts Data Identification Form and share some new information.

  • Extraction plans to spend 9 weeks constructing the location, 18 weeks to drill the wells, and 23 weeks to complete the wells for Draco, for a total of 50 weeks of pre-production activities, assuming two concurrent electric drilling rigs will be used. The wells will be in production for 20 years.
  • The operator estimates 158,125 diesel vehicle miles will be driven before the wells are put into production to deliver sand, pipe, and other materials to the site.
  • The project will use 3.27 million pounds of proppant/sand during completions activities.
  • They plan to use 12,885,000 barrels of water to frack the 26 wells at Draco, for a total of 541 million gallons of water and an average of 20.8 million gallons per well.
  • They will not be recycling produced water because “the infrastructure necessary to reuse or recycle water does not exist in this area.”
  • Extraction plans to plug and abandon 22 wells at 18 locations, as well as removing 24 oil tanks and 13 produced water tanks.
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Draco OGDP Information Session

Thank you for joining us at the Erie Community Library on June 12th from 5:00 to 7:00 for an information and question & answer session about the Draco Oil & Gas Development Plan (OGDP). We had over 50 people attend! Community activists, local elected officials, and other knowledgeable experts were on hand to answer your questions about this large-scale oil & gas development plan that affects neighborhoods in Erie, Colorado.

Calls to Action

Quick Links

New Bills in the Colorado Legislature

The following climate-related bills have been introduced in the Colorado Legislature for the Spring 2024 term:

  • HB24-1330: Air Quality Permitting
    Concerning modifications of processes to obtain permits for activities that impact air quality. This bill closes a loophole where oil & gas operators can currently apply for an air quality permit for each emitting source instead of considering the cumulative impact of all the infrastructure at a single pad.
  • SB24-159: Mod to Energy & Carbon Management Processes
    Concerning modifications to processes to further protect public health in energy and carbon management. This bill would phase out permitting for new oil & gas wells by 2030, and is scheduled to be heard in the Agriculture & Natural Resources committee on March 14th, 2024. See this fact sheet for more information.
  • SB24-165: Air Quality Improvements
    Concerning measures to reduce emissions of air pollutants that negatively impact air quality. This bill would limit nitrogen oxide emissions (a major contributor to our regional ozone problems), up to and including a prohibition on oil & gas preproduction activities during ozone season.
  • SB24-166: Air Quality Enforcement
    Concerning measures to increase the enforcement of violations that impact the environment. This bill increases the fines and penalties for repeat air quality violators.

A Record Number of Spills in Weld County

For the month of January 2024 in Weld County, the ECMC recorded the largest number of oil & gas spills ever; 102 spills altogether. This represents 77.3% of the 132 spills reported for the month across the entire state.

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SB24-159 Media Coverage

We’ll update this post with additional media coverage as we find it. If you come across something we’ve missed, let us know.

Mar 13, 24Colorado NewslineHow a pair of scissors helps explain the deepest divide in Colorado climate policy
Mar 1, 24Colorado NewslineColorado climate activists rally at Capitol to support oil and gas phaseout bill
Feb 16, 24The Center SquareBill would stop new oil, gas permits in Colorado by 2030
Feb 14, 2024CPR NewsColorado is set to consider a ‘fossil fuel phase-out.’ Here’s why that’s a big deal
Feb 14, 2024The Fence PostColorado oil and gas ban bill introduced by Jaquez Lewis, Priola
Feb 12, 2024The Denver GazetteColorado Democrats push to end new oil drilling by 2030
Feb 10, 2024Denver Business JournalColorado legislators push to end oil well drilling by 2030 (Paywalled)
Feb 10, 2024The Sum & SubstanceComing bills would ban new oil-and-gas wells, stop summertime drilling

Permitted vs Spud Wells by County

Now that the “SB24-159 Modifications to Energy & Carbon Management Processes” bill has been introduced in the legislature and is getting some media attention, industry advocates once again say that activists are trying to ban fossil fuel extraction today, right now, no exceptions. In reality, the legislation is meant to slow down and eventually stop the permitting process. Even this will take quite a bit of time.

The Colorado Energy & Carbon Management Commission (ECMC) makes available a daily data download for the visualizations available on the Daily Activity Dashboard. One of the sheets available in the Excel workbook is Spud Data, showing two interesting statistics for each county in Colorado:

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Spill Analysis by Year

In addition to persistently-poor air quality, the immense amount of oil & gas infrastructure present throughout Colorado poses another risk in the form of spills—of oil, methane, and produced water. While the amount of “spilled” methane gas is more difficult to quantify, the Colorado Energy & Carbon Management Commission (ECMC) has done a better job of capturing the quantities of oil and produced water spilled at oil & gas facilities in Colorado. This data is available to download from the ECMC web site, but is poorly presented as a data table PDF that cannot be machine read into Microsoft Excel or other tools for easy analysis.

Can you spot the “analysis?” The amount of oil and water spilled has been expressed as a percent of the total volume of oil and water produced, respectively. At best, it seems that the volume of oil spilled has declined relative to production, but the number of spills have quadrupled over the reporting period! What’s happening?

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