Weld County Hydraulic Fracturing Water Use Map

This map depicts the total amount of water used to hydraulically fracture the wells at oil & gas locations across Weld County, Colorado. While the American Petroleum Institute (API) says “the average fracking job uses roughly 4 million gallons of water per well,” recent proposed projects such as the Draco Oil & Gas Development Plan (OGDP) in Erie estimate they’ll use over 20 million gallons to frac each of the 26 well bores at the Draco pad.

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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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Weld County Oil Spills Map

This map depicts recent and historical oil spills in Weld County. 132 spills were reported in Weld County in May 2024, the most ever for any reporting month. Since 2021, Weld County accounts for 70% of all spills across the state of Colorado.

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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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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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ECMC Complaints Analysis

As complicated and difficult as it can be to submit a complaint to the ECMC (fka COGCC) about an air quality, noise, or odor issue at an oil and gas facility in Colorado, the number of complaints lodged with any location is a good measure of the negative impact that oil & gas exploration has in our neighborhoods. With data obtained from the ECMC, here’s a data table showing the sites that logged more than 20 complaints of any kind since 2010.

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