Colorado’s record-setting floods in September did not seriously impact oil and natural gas production in the state, nor result in any environmental disasters, although crude oil production took more of a hit than gas operations, according to a report from the Colorado Oil/Gas Association (COGA).
Concentrated in the north-central and northeastern portion of the state in the Denver-Julesburg (DJ) Basin, the unprecedented flooding and rains impacted nearly 10% of the 20,000 wells in the basin, while 1,882 homes were destroyed, more than 16,000 damaged, and 500 miles of roads and 50 bridges were washed out.
COGA emphasized that even with that level of nature’s wrath pounding the area for nearly two weeks, “there was no evidence of pollutants from oil/gas spills,” based on assessments by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
More than 1,900 wells were shut down in the DJ Basin, resulting in production loss of 36 MMcf/d of gas, and 18,750 b/d of oil. For the 10-county region, that equated to 14% of normal oil production and 4.1% of overall gas production, COGA calculated. On a statewide basis, those totals amount to 11.75% of oil production and 0.8% of gas production.
“Before flood waters rose, oil/gas operators shut in hundreds of wells, monitored them 24/7 and implemented emergency response plans,” said a COGA spokesperson, adding that operators “immediately” reported any releases to the state and facilitated clean-up operations overseen by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC).
Overall, there were 13 “notable” releases or spills, according to COGA and COGCC, representing less than 1% of the wells involved. “This was an incredible safety record, and the industry was extraordinarily prepared,” according to COGA CEO Tisha Schuller.
COGCC reported the spills as equating to 1,042 bbls, or 43,764 gallons of oil. Raw sewage in the flood waters far exceeded the amount of oil or gas, according to COGA (220,000 gallons of sewage vs. 43,000 gallons of oil/gas).
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