Oil & Gas folks find 129,000 underground oil and gas pipelines <= 1,000 feet (300 meters) of occupied buildings

Photo credit Croft Production Systems.

From the Associated Press (Dan Elliott):

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission ordered energy companies to identify and test all pipelines near occupied structures after a natural gas explosion killed two people and injured a third in April…

The data reported to the state by Friday showed more than 7,700 pipelines had at least one end inside a city or town.

The house that exploded was within 200 feet (60 meters) of the gas well, and the pipeline was severed about 10 feet (3 meters) from the house, officials said. The well and pipeline were in place several years before the house was built.

Anadarko Petroleum, which owns the well, said it would permanently shut it down.

The pipelines are known as flow lines and connect wells to tanks or other collection points. A well can have multiple flow lines of varying lengths. Some carry petroleum from the well to a separator, which removes water and divides oil from the gas. Other lines carry the water, oil and gas from the separator to tanks.

Many are 1 or 2 inches (2.5 or 5 centimeters) in diameter…

Oil and gas companies reported 128,826 flow lines within 1,000 feet of buildings, although a few companies included lines up to 1,500 feet (460 meters) away, said Todd Hartman, a spokesman for the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

About 113,000 of the pipelines are in use.

The purpose of the inventory is to see whether any inactive lines still protrude above the ground, where they might mistakenly be put back in use, Stuart Ellsworth, engineering manager for the commission, said in an interview.

“My goal is to get rid of this guy,” Ellsworth said, pointing to a diagram showing the above-ground section of a flow line, called a riser. “I do not want the opportunity for an error.”

Since 2001, the commission has required companies to disconnect and purge flow lines when they are abandoned. They also have to be cut off 3 feet below the surface and sealed at both ends.

Ellsworth said the owners of abandoned pipelines identified in this year’s inspections will have to comply with that rule, even if the lines went out of use before the rule was enacted.

Gov. John Hickenlooper and some lawmakers suggested after the April explosion that Colorado could compile a map of all flow lines. Ellsworth said the data the state is collecting now is not enough to create a map because it shows only the end points of a flow line, and the path from one end to the other is not always a straight line.

Lincoln Park/Cotter Mill superfund site update

Lincoln Park/Cotter Mill superfund site

From KOAA.com:

The uranium mill was declared a Superfund environmental disaster more than 20 years ago after contamination was discovered in both well water and soil in Cañon City.

We weren’t allowed to film or take pictures on the tour but we did get to ask some questions.

The site manager says they’re trying to determine the usability of the mill in the future and are waiting on a quality assurance plan. Next, they’ll have to draft what’s called a remedial investigation report.

Before they’re able to recommend a clean-up plan which would be in 2020 at the earliest.

The puzzling push to allow pollution and waste on federal lands — The Mountain Town News @MountainTownNew

A drilling rig in the Piceance Basin, southeast of Rangely, Colo. Photo/Allen Best

From The Mountain Town News (Allen Best):

Donald Trump, in running for president, vowed to make public lands more accessible for oil-and-gas drilling. He also promised to roll back regulations. When it came to methane emissions, his anti-regulation agenda failed thanks to three Republicans in the U.S. Senate who walked across the partisan divide to preserve the Methane Waste Prevention Rule.

The rule, adopted by the Obama administration last November after three years of public review, requires companies operating on federal and Indian lands to look for and repair leaks, allows only minimal burning, and prohibits direct venting into the atmosphere. Proponents said the regulations can result in 40 to 45 percent of the gas otherwise wasted being captured.

What motivated this push to allow a valuable public resource to be wasted in a way that pollutes? Are we really desperate for the energy? The stock market was barreling along even before the election, and after the election it became delirious.

Energy is cheap. A decade ago, the peak oil argument was credible. A book about the same time was called “High Noon for Natural Gas.” It looked like end times for our fossil fuel-enabled civilization. Natural gas ran as high at $14.50 per million Btu and the gas we buy to fuel our cars ran over $4 in metropolitan Denver.

Now natural gas is running a little over $3 and the oil prices are running about $50 a barrel, meaning gas prices at Denver-area stations run about $2.30 per gallon for standard unleaded. Hydrocarbons have become so plentiful globally that OPEC continues to hold back production in an effort to raise prices.

Cheap energy enables waste. I see it almost every day. As I live near a busy commercial area, strangers park in front of my house constantly. Returning from yoga or shopping or the bar, many get in cars, turn on the engine, and then just sit there, idling, while scrolling through Facebook or whatever. Sometimes they sit idle for a half-hour while stinking up the neighborhood.

More unnerving was my recent visit to a nature-science school in Eagle County. The building housing the school has a LEED platinum certification, the very highest attainment for environmental performance. But in the parking lot was the very worst of environmental performance. A Cadillac Escalade pulled up next to me. It gets 15 miles per gallon in the city, 22 on the highway. Idling in a parking space, it gets even worse: zero miles per gallon. But that is what the driver was doing, thumbing through her smart phone on the best of spring days, neither warm nor cold. Cost was no issue.

In winter, on even the chilliest days, I see store doors constantly left wide open, to make them more inviting to shoppers. Ditto in summer, when the air conditioner is blasting. We heat the great outdoors in winter and cool it in summer.

The federal regulations were modeled on those adopted by Colorado in 2014. [ed.emphasis mine] A survey by Keating Research issued in April 2016 found that 8 of 10 oil and gas company representatives interviewed said that they were profiting, coming out even, or paying out just a little more than they collected in new revenue. Certainly not onerous.

I consume both natural gas and oil, and I recognize that all energy extraction and production has impacts. So does renewable energy. But to let methane be wasted to pollute the atmosphere when we’re awash in cheap energy is puzzling.

Why did Congress nearly repeal these regulations? The disagreement seems to be over whether states should make the rules, even those on federal lands. It’s similar to the dispute about water.

But what a bizarre flag to battle under, the right to allow waste and pollution. Whatever were Rep. Mike Coffman, Sen. Cory Gardner and Colorado’s other Republicans in Congress thinking?

Thanks goodness for the three senators who crossed the aisle: John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Susan Collins of Maine.

Oil and gas operators deliver inspection data to the COGCC

Oil and gas development on the Roan via Airphotona

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

Energy companies have inspected thousands of local oil and gas flowlines near homes and provided the state with an inventory of the lines following an order to complete those tasks, and now face a second deadline to test those lines.

The companies are responding to a directive by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission after investigators determined that an April explosion that killed two people in a home in Firestone was caused by gas emitting from a flowline from a nearby oil and gas well. The line had been abandoned but never was disconnected from the well or capped, and was somehow severed near the home. Flowlines connect oil and gas wells to tanks, larger gathering lines that collect gas from multiple wells, or other equipment.

Based on a directive from Gov. John Hickenlooper, the oil and gas commission required that by Tuesday of this week, companies inspect any flowlines and other pipelines within 1,000 feet of a building unit and provide the commission with flowline inventory and location data.

Companies also had to take steps including making sure that all flowlines not in use, regardless of distance from buildings, are marked and capped.

Under the second phase of the order, with a June 30 deadline, companies must pressure-test all lines within 1,000 of buildings, and take steps including properly abandoning or removing any lines not in use, or putting them back in use after testing them.

Laramie Energy, with close to 1,300 producing wells in western Colorado’s Piceance Basin, identified about 900 flowlines closer than 1,000 feet from buildings. Local Laramie official Chis Clark noted by email that the definition of flowlines under the order “was very broad and included lines which normally would not be accounted for such as water lines and low pressure dump lines.”

He said that in addition to a gas flowline, a typical well may have an additional four to six lines “for produced liquids, fresh water, fuel gas or chemical treatment lines.”

He said of 899 lines identified under the inventory, 43 will be abandoned or removed by the June 30 deadline, and the rest pressure-tested.

A number of the Laramie lines within 1,000 feet of buildings are in the Collbran or Rifle areas. But Bob Hea, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Laramie, said the company’s holdings are still generally in fairly rural areas, and not near towns.

Terra Energy Partners submitted inventories to the state Tuesday on more than 2,700 flowline segments meeting the criteria for building proximity under the first phase of the state’s order.

Terra is the largest gas producer in the Piceance Basin, operating several thousand wells.

Complying with the state’s order has been no small task for Terra or Laramie.

“The large quantity of flowlines in our inventory required a substantial effort on the part of Terra employees to meet the deadline and was only possible by beginning with an already well-maintained database,” said Terra spokesperson Susan Alvillar.

She said Terra has more than 15 crews working to comply with the phase-two requirements.

“We meet challenges from a regulatory standpoint every day in our work and this effort is no different,” she said.

Hea said Laramie has hired contractors to help it with its compliance effort. He said the company began work within a day or two after the order came out and worked some long days to meet the first deadline.

He said the second phase will be a different kind of challenge. The company ordered digital pressure gauges that can record data, which will help it in carrying out pressure tests and providing results to the state. Doing the tests will probably involve an even greater workload than the first phase of the state’s order did, he said.

“Some lines require 15-minute tests, some lines require one-hour tests, and you can only do so many at a time,” he said.

He said the first-phase work turned up no surprises with the company’s lines. Most are fairly new, and either were put in by Laramie, or involved wells that it purchased from companies whose local employees it ended up hiring, so it already knew about most of the lines.

Don Simpson, a vice president with Ursa Resources, said it’s already nearly finished with the second phase of the required flowline work.

“We found no problems with any of our pipelines or anything like that,” he said.

He didn’t know offhand how many of its lines fell within the 1,000-foot building threshold. Ursa has fewer wells than some other local energy companies but has drilled closer to homes in places such as the Battlement Mesa area.

Much of Ursa’s drilling in that area is fairly new, so it had a lot of its flowlines identified already, Simpson said.

It also has wells in the Silt area, including ones that it acquired when it bought Antero Resources’ Piceance Basin assets years ago. While some of the Silt-area wells are older, Simpson said Ursa doesn’t have abandoned wells or abandoned flowlines, such as the line at issue in the Firestone explosion.

Information wasn’t available from the oil and gas commission as of late afternoon Wednesday about the level of compliance by companies with the first phase of the flowline order.

The Navajo Nation is negotiating for water rights and access to Navajo Generating station facilities

From The Arizona Republic (Ryan Randazzo):

The Navajo Nation will earn $110 million in lease payments over 35 years if the deal is approved, as the owners will be required to monitor the land after the facilities are removed. But the deal includes other financial benefits for the tribe.

The Navajo Nation has identified several pieces of the operation it wants to keep when the plant closes, according to the legislation. They include the railroad between the plant and coal mine, valued at $120 million; the lake pump facility and electrical switch yard, valued at $41 million; and access to major transmission lines leading from the plant, which SRP values at about $80 million.

The access to the power lines would allow for solar or wind projects on the reservation to get their power to market.

The tribe hopes to negotiate with the state to acquire 50,000 acre-feet of water from the lake annually once the power plant no longer uses that allotment.

If the Navajo Nation Council approves the deal by July 1, any amendments the tribe makes will have to be considered and approved by the plant owners.

#Colorado Dept. of Agriculture has funding for farm hydropower projects

Hydropower sprinkler system via Homelink Magazine

From the Colorado Department of Agriculture via The Fence Post:

The Colorado Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service are seeking applicants for on-farm agricultural hydropower projects. The total amount of available assistance for this round is $1,200,000. The funding is available to Colorado agricultural irrigators with appropriate hydropower resources.

The funding is part of the NRCS Regional Conservation Partnership Program. Within RCPP, the Colorado irrigation hydropower program provides funding to agricultural producers to help them add hydropower to new or existing irrigation systems.

“The program addresses water quantity, water quality and energy resource concerns,” said Sam Anderson, CDA’s energy specialist, “by helping farmers upgrade outdated and labor-intensive flood-irrigation systems to more efficient pressurized-irrigation systems using hydropower, or retrofit existing sprinkler systems with a hydropower component.

“Half a dozen projects have already been completed across Colorado, and this year we hope to fund more than a dozen new installations,” he said.

“This program helps farmers by putting their irrigation water to work, creating electricity that lowers their power bills,” Commissioner of Agriculture Don Brown said. “We are very proud of this program and how it gives producers a way to cut their costs and use their resources efficiently.”

The overall hydro program is funded and assisted by 14 agencies and groups, collectively contributing $3 million to the effort for project funding and technical assistance for Colorado agricultural producers.

CDA is currently accepting applications for the next round of RCPP irrigation hydro projects. Applicants must be eligible to receive funding from the NRCS EQIP program. For more information and to submit an application, visit the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s ACRE3 hydropower website: http://www.colorado.gov/agconservation/hydro-navigation-guide or contact Sam Anderson at (303) 869-9044 or http://CDA_hydro@state.co.us. The application deadline is June 23, 2017.

Pagosa Springs sixth grade student renewable energy day

San Juan River from Wolf Creek Pass

From The Pagosa Springs Sun (David Smith)

Meeting this demand with fossil fuels will be increasing dif cult as reserves become depleted. More important, we know that massive burning of fossil fuels damages our environment. Renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, provide an inexpensive and clean alternative to burning fossil fuels.

To prepare the next generation for this change, Kristin Hentschel, Pagosa Springs Middle School sixth-grade science teacher, orga- nized a Renewable Energy Day.

This project was funded by a $1,000 grant from the Foundation for Archuleta County Education (FACE).
The 120 sixth-grade students were divided into eight groups which visited eight renewable energy projects. Parents and com- munity scientists manned each of the eight stations.

At the end of the day, the stu- dents wrote about their experiences…

“I liked all the stations. This was perfect.” — Daniel B.