In North Dakota, Oilfield Spill Problems Worsen

In early January, a pipeline was found leaking oilfield wastewater into a creek. It’s estimated to be the worst such spill since the start of the oil boom. An Inside Energy investigation shows North Dakota’s spill problem is getting worse.

Basin Boom Means More Spills

Horizontal drilling and fracking have prompted an oil boom in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, Alisa Barba reported earlier this week. But an increase in drilling — 590 oil wells have been drilled and completed in the Powder River Basin since January of 2009 — has its consequences. Mead Gruver from Associated Press reported yesterday that 2014 has already been the state’s worst year for oil spills since 2009.

Bovine Woes For Oil and Gas Operators

A cow recently got blamed for a 20-barrel natural gas condensate spill in North Dakota. Where extraction equipment and livestock commingle, how often do cows and mining operations clash? As it turns out, the Inside Energy team has been looking through oil and gas spill data from Wyoming. In 2013, two spills (out of 538) were caused by cows. Here’s what the reports, from the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, said:

“Cow rubbed valve & fitting”
“Cow opened valve on blow down tank…Cow kicked valve open”

Read more: “Oil and Gas Commission records lots of spills, but no fines in 2013,” by Stephanie Joyce for Wyoming Public Radio