Oil & gas association monitoring wells; Industry critics worried

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A drilling site in Larimer County on Sept. 13, 2013.

DENVER — As the state begins cleaning up after one of the worst and most widespread floods in history, many are worried about the status of oil and natural gas wells in the northeast.

Oil and natural gas drills are scattered across the plains in Weld and Larimer counties and many were flooded.

Monday, the President and CEO, Colorado Oil & Gas Association Tisha Schuller testified before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on the industry’s response to the floods.

“The flooding in Colorado is of historic proportions and the state is rightly focused on search and rescue efforts for those affected. While the rains have subsided in many areas of the state, some of the most heavily impacted areas are still under a flash flood warning until the end of the day,” Schuller said according to a news release.

As website was setup so COGA could provide updates to the pubic.

The association has reached out to member drills and “are receiving good updates on the efforts to prevent, monitor, assess and respond to any field needs,” Schuller said.

“As flooding began on Wednesday night, wells were shut in and incident command centers were opened. While the majority of operators have little to no impact to their well sites, those who have been affected are actively monitoring and working with the COGCC and emergency responders,” Schuller said. ” We have operations ranging from unaffected to sitting in standing water, to located in rushing water. Companies from the smallest to the largest operators are engaged in around-the-clock assessment, prevention, monitoring and response. All impacted wells have been shut-in, which mean the well has been closed off or shut and is not producing any oil and gas product of any kind.”

Yet industry critics said they are worried.

Anti-fracking activist Cliff Willmeng told the Daily Camera that he spent two days documenting flooded drilling sites and found “hundreds” of wells that were inundated.

“What we immediately need to know is what is leaking and we need a full detailed report of what that is. This is washing across agricultural land and into the waterways. Now we have to discuss what type of exposure the human population is going to have to suffer through,” Willmeng told the Camera.

A blog post from the website texassharon.com that claims there is a “fracking flood disaster in Colorado” has been circulating on social media in recent days.

The post is credited to East Boulder County United, an anit-drilling organization, and asks if there is a media blackout on the issue.

“We have seen the social media frenzy regarding pictures of oil and gas facilities ‘under water,'” Schuller said. “While the pictures seem extraordinary, there is no data or specifics provided.”

Schuller said people who see damaged wells should email photos, with specific locations or concerns to info@coga.org “so we can provide an operational status of that location.”

During a news conference Monday Gov. John Hickenlooper said state officials were checking on wells.

“We will check on that obviously. That’s one of the high priorities on the checklist.”

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