COGCC issues ‘Lessons Learned’ report for operations affected by September #COflood

Production fluids leak into surface water September 2013 -- Photo/The Denver Post
Production fluids leak into surface water September 2013 — Photo/The Denver Post

From the Denver Business Journal (Cathy Proctor):

…while images of tipped storage tanks and flooded well sites were part of the national media coverage of the storm and the aftermath, the amount of petroleum products spilled into the rushing waters was small compared to the raw sewage and chemicals from flooded wastewater treatment plants, homes, stores and other facilities, state officials said in the weeks following the flood.

Now, the COGCC, which oversees the state’s multi-billion dollar oil and gas industry, issued its staff report to focus on “Lessons Learned” from the flood. The report doesn’t suggest putting new laws in place, but does propose the COGCC consider adopting “best management” practices for oil and gas equipment located near Colorado’s streams and rivers.
Along with encouraging remote wells, the COGCC recommends boosting the construction requirements for wells located near streams and rivers and developing an emergency manual to help the the COGCC staff better respond in the early days of a future emergency.

From the Northern Colorado Business Report (Jerd Smith):

In the wake of last September’s floods, a new report from state oil and gas regulators recommends that oil companies maintain precise locations and inventories of wells and production equipment near waterways, that all new wells near waterways contain remote shut-in equipment, and that no open pits be allowed within a designated distance from the high-water mark of any given streams.

In the report, released Monday, staff of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission said they would not recommend any new state laws to address flood damage in oil and gas fields, but that they would suggest changes to regulations governing how production and gathering facilities are sited and constructed.

The commission noted that more than 5,900 oil and gas wells are within 500 feet of a Colorado stream.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association, however, said that the industry responded well to the emergency and that no further regulatory action was needed.

“The floods were a difficult and trying event for everyone, and we are proud at our ability to engage meaningfully in the response and recovery of our Colorado communities,” Tisha Schuller, president and chief executive of the association, said in a statement Monday afternoon. “The flood report reiterated facts supporting that Colorado’s oil and gas industry was extraordinarily well prepared, responded in real time, and is committed to Colorado’s recovery.

From the Associated Press via The Colorado Springs Gazette:

The suggestions from the commission’s staff include requiring that storage tanks be anchored with cables so they’re less likely to tip and spill and requiring all wells within a certain distance of waterways to be equipped with devices that allow operators to shut them down remotely.

The staff recommendations didn’t say what that distance should be.

The commission is expected to discuss the proposed rules at a meeting this spring.

The report described the flood damage to storage tanks and production equipment as “substantial and expensive” but gave no dollar amount. It also said oil and gas production has still not returned to pre-flood levels but again gave no figures.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

SB14-017 morphs into study #COleg

Sprawl
Sprawl

From The Durango Herald (Joe Hanel):

The brainchild of Durango water engineer Steve Harris, Senate Bill 17 originally would have limited the size of lawns in new suburban developments. That idea proved highly controversial among home builders and local governments, so the sponsor, Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, rewrote it to remove the lawn mandate and instead call for a study of water conservation by the Legislature’s summer water committee.

Even so, the plan narrowly survived the House Agriculture. Livestock and Natural Resources Committee on Monday, passing on a 6-5 vote. Four Republicans and a suburban Democrat, Rep. Steve Lebsock of Thornton, voted against it…

Lobby groups for cities and home builders fought against the original bill but now support it. Kevin Bommer of the Colorado Municipal League took the opportunity to defend cities.

“There is a big misperception that municipalities aren’t doing anything – or perhaps aren’t doing enough – on municipal water conservation,” he said. “I think that could not be further from the truth.”[…]

The original idea to target lawns on newly built homes would not have helped because new homes tend to have small lawns, said Jeani Frickey of the Colorado Association of Home Builders.

“It’s not necessarily new construction where you are going to see those huge water savings. It’s existing housing stock,” Frickey said.

The bill now goes to the full House.

More 2014 Colorado Legislation coverage here.