In his article for the E&E Reporter, Mike Soraghan writes:
The number of spills reported at oil and gas production sites shot up slightly more than 17 percent last year, even as the rate of drilling activity leveled off.
There were at least 7,662 spills, blowouts, leaks and other mishaps in 2013 in 15 top states for onshore oil and gas activity, according to an EnergyWire analysis of state records. That’s up from 6,546 in the states where comparisons could be made (EnergyWire, July 8, 2013).
That adds up to more than 20 spills a day.
Many of the spills were small. But their combined volume totaled more than 26 million gallons of oil, hydraulic fracturing fluid, “fracking” wastewater and other substances. That’s the same volume as what gushed four years ago from BP PLC’s ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well in 11 days.
Some of the increase may have come from changes in spill reporting practices in a handful of states, but the number of spills and other mishaps rose even without counting those states.
Some of the biggest jumps were in the booming Bakken Shale. North Dakota, which is already contending with flaring and urban woes in its once sparsely populated western end, saw spills jump 42 percent even though the average number of rigs working in the state dropped 8 percent.
Across the state line in Montana, spills were up 48 percent, tracking with the 42 percent increase in rig count figures maintained by Baker Hughes Inc., a common measure of industry activity.
One of the biggest spills of the year flowed from Montana into North Dakota, but it wasn’t in the Bakken. It was farther south, at a Denbury Resources Inc. enhanced oil recovery near the state line. Three days before Thanksgiving last year, a pipeline carrying production wastewater broke, and more than 700,000 gallons of wastewater leaked into the ground. The brine surfaced and flowed into a dry Badlands drainage called Big Gumbo Creek, polluting nearly 3 miles.
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