According to interviews with the state health department, the Denver Post reports no evidence of oil and gas contamination has been found in the aftermath of the Colorado floods.
On September 26, 2013, samples were taken from 29 locations in eight rivers throughout the flood zone, the Post says. Even the South Platte Basin, the area of several drilling locations, showed no signs of contamination.
However, high E. coli levels were discovered in the region, in addition to Boulder Creek and Big Thompson River, with the highest detected in Boulder and near Niwot. The state continues to test for metals possibly released from nearby mining areas.
“Although much attention was focused on spills from oil and gas operations, it is reassuring the sampling shows no evidence of oil and gas pollutants,” Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment chief medical officer Dr. Larry Wolk told the Denver Post. “There were elevated E. coli levels, as we expected, in some locations.”
The state initially reported spills from petroleum fluids and production water would total 62,000 gallons. Almost all were a result of dislodged pipes and tanks. An estimated 1,900 wells were shut in.
Noble Energy (ticker: NBL), the region’s largest operator, had been using steel containment structures on its wells, and continues to monitor its spills. Dan Kelly, vice president of NBR, said, “We’ll look for anything in the lower flood plain with steel containment… These held up really well. Nothing is fortunate about this but we will take the knowledge we’ve gained in the last two to three weeks and we will absolutely incorporate into future plans.”
Encana Corp. (ticker: ECA), the region’s fourth largest operator, installed steel fences at its 425 tank batteries beginning in 2010. “We had some produced water tanks that that been buried and were light and floated, but nothing floated away,” said Pete Straub, the company’s head of DJ Basin field operations.
Both companies capably shut down wells from remote locations. The overwhelming majority of operations now continue, and NBR reports 96% of its well are back online.
NBL expects to report losses of approximately 5,000 to 7,000 BOEPD in its upcoming fourth quarter earnings release. Anadarko Petroleum (ticker: APC) reported the delays caused by the flood is expected to reduce the company’s sales volume by 2.5 MMBOE. However, APC estimates its annual sales volume to remain within the provided guidance of 281 to 287 MMBOE.
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