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Fracking and fire cause two Bakken spills

Last week the North Dakota Oil and Gas Division reported two spills in Dunn and Williams counties, caused by a valve failure during a nearby hydraulic fracturing operation and a fire, respectively.

According to the Forum News Service (FNS), on Tuesday Burlington Resources Oil & Gas Co. reported the valve failure and resulting spill in Dunn County, approximately 13 miles north of Killdeer. Department of Mineral Resources Spokeswoman Alison Ritter said a valve failure in the frac operation resulted in an uncontrolled release of produced water and oil from an adjacent well.

The failure caused the release of an estimated 20 barrels, or 840 gallons, of oil and 630 barrels, or 26,460 gallons, of produced water. The water and oil were contained within the well location, and by Thursday, nearly all of the spill had been recovered. Other fluid being released was redirected and gathered into tanks while crews worked to regain control of the well, which they accomplished Wednesday after pumping heavy saltwater down the well.

Petroleum geologist with the DMR, Richard Suggs, told the FNS that the high pressure at which fluids are injected during hydraulic fracturing operations can increase pressure in nearby wells. Ritter said, “We do have rules in place to try to prevent something like this from happening. This was a case where the valve failed and it couldn’t be prevented.”

On Wednesday, in Williams County, Enduro Operating LLC reported that a fire resulted in approximately 460 barrels, or 19,320 gallons, of saltwater to be released at a saltwater disposal well roughly 7 miles southeast of Wildrose. The company reports nearly all of the released saltwater has been recovered. The DMR says state inspectors have been to both locations and will continue to oversee additional clean-up and remediation efforts.

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