Colorado state energy officials Thursday added new information surrounding a small hydrocarbon spill in the Parachute Creek area of the Western Slope. On Tuesday investigators focused on a valve box for a pipeline carrying natural gas liquids (NGL) away from a Williams Co. unit’s gas processing plant.

“The soil around the valve box is saturated with hydrocarbons,” said a spokesperson for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), who added that Williams has continued to conduct a “cautious investigation” in an area inundated with pipelines, adding to the complexity of the two-week old probe.

On Wednesday COGCC reported the results of its March 22 water sampling from three locations (upstream, adjacent and downstream of the spill), all of which showed no evidence of contamination. “[Our] sampling comports with results of ongoing sampling of creek waters by operators,” the spokesperson told NGI Thursday.

The incident in the area of Williams’ midstream operations came to light March 15. A total of 143 bbl of oil had been recovered by last Tuesday, according to COGCC. It essentially has never been out of control although the source and cause still remain a mystery (see Daily GPI, March 25).

A March 20 “Notice of Alleged Violation” issued to Williams and the owner of the land and well pads in the immediate area, WPX Energy, which previously was a wholly owned subsidiary of Williams, requires continued follow-up by the operators. Under the notices both companies are required to “identify and evaluate all potential receptors of surface water and groundwater within a one-mile radius” of the area under investigation, the spokesperson said.

The state agency and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continue to hold daily telephone briefings with Williams and WPX.

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