According to a report from the Center for Western Priorities, the number of fluid spills from oil and gas activities in three western states increased 2.5 percent last year although total spill volumes have declined.
“Oil and gas-related spills have a significant impact on the land, water and surrounding communities,” said Jesse Prentice-Dunn, policy director at the center. “There is clearly a need to improve safeguards.”
According to its annual wrap-up of spills using data provided by state oil and gas regulators, the center reported a total 2,834 spills that released 17,998 bbl of oil and 174,943 bbl of produced water in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming in 2018. Compared to 2017, volumes of oil spilled decreased by 432 bbl while produced water spill volumes decreased by 25,054 bbl.
In Colorado, legislation sharply increasing penalties for violations of spill regulations is cited as a factor in the decrease in spills and spill volumes, according to the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.
“Colorado has seen total spills decrease since 2015 by more than 25 percent despite a 40 percent increase in oil production,” said Scott Prestidge, director of communications at COGA. “Total spilled fluid volume accounts for only 0.003 percent of fluid volume handled by producers.” The Center for Western Priorities is an environmental news organization that reports on conservation issues in the West and generally opposes oil and gas development.