Letter to the Editor: Regarding oil, gas spills in Colorado

Listen to this post

Dear Editor:
The recent article in the Rio Blanco Herald Times about oil and gas spills in Colorado provides limited data from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and does not provide an accurate context around how much is actually spilled.

Water management is one of the things that companies who produce oil and gas have to do really well. At WPX, we work with care, train our employees and have invested millions of dollars in water treatment and recycling facilities.
Reporting spills is part of this process and our commitment to comply with state requirements. Today, the COGCC requires operators to report any spill involving one barrel (42 gallons) or more of fluid.
In 2014, WPX handled more than 19 million barrels (798 million gallons) of water, liquids and fluids in our local drilling and production operations in the Piceance Basin, including in Rio Blanco County. For some context, that’s enough liquid to fill more than 1,200 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
So how’d we do? Of that amount, we kept 99.983 percent of the water and fluids “in the swimming pool” so to speak, or, more precisely, where that water was supposed to be—in pipes, tanks, equipment, trucks, etc.
The amount we spilled—0.017 percent—was less than one quarter of 1 percent. We documented each of these occurrences—85 reported in all, totaling 3,400 barrels—according to requirements.
About a quarter of the spills occurred in areas where we had lined containment. Additionally, 90 percent of the 3,400 barrels stayed on drilling pads where we ultimately recovered about 87 percent of the spilled volume.
Ninety-nine point nine (99.9) percent is a strong success rate, but we’re committed to constant improvement. Spill prevention is where we and our contractors can make the biggest, most beneficial impact.
Jeff Kirtland
Community Relations Representative
WPX Energy