oil spills | Prairie Public Broadcasting

oil spills

Courtesy US Geological Survey

The US Geological Survey has been doing research into how historic oil and gas production in the Williston Basin has affected native amphibians in the Prairie Pothole Region.

The study specifically looked at wastewater produced by the historic oil activity, and whether metals that occur in those brines ended up in wetlands, and affected the amphibians.

Produced water spill reported near Fairfield

Nov 28, 2018

A truck carrying “produced water” from oil and gas development overturned four miles west of Fairfield, spilling the 185 barrels of water on rangeland and into Ash Coulee Creek.

That creek is the site of what’s been called one of the largest reported oil spills in state history.

In December, 2016, an oil pipeline leak spilled 12,615 barrels of oil, or about 530,000 gallons, into Ash Coulee Creek and onto a hillside. The site of that spill is 16 miles northwest of Belfield.

The produced water spill was reported Saturday.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Under new rules adopted by the state Industrial Commission, oil companies will have to give royalty owners more details on deductions taken from their royalty checks.

Royalty owners have complained about trying to get answers from the oil companies on why some deductions are taken from their royalty payments.

North Dakota Mineral Resources assistant director Bruce Hicks said the rule will provide clarity and transparency.

TransCanada Corp. said its Keystone pipeline has leaked an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota.

The company said crews shut down the pipeline this Thursday morning after a drop in pressure was detected resulting from an oil leak that's under investigation. The section of pipe near the Ludden pump station in Marshall County, South Dakota, has been isolated and the company says emergency response procedures were activated.

The state Senate has approved a measure to put a 10-barrel floor on reportable oil spills – if they’re contained on the well pad.

Under current law, all spills are reported.

Sen. Erin Oban (D-Bismarck) opposed the bill.

"Mark my words -- if this bill passes, we're going to see a headline in a year or two that says, 'Look at how much North Dakota has reduced its oil spills,'" Oban said. "In reality, we will just have reduced what we are reporting."

Oban said the state reported 1258 spills last year -- the vast majority were 10 barrels or less.

Oil spill cleanup continues near Belfield

Dec 14, 2016
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Clean up work continues on an oil pipeline leak near Belfield.

More than 176,000 gallons of oil leaked from the Belle Fourche Pipeline. The oil traveled nearly 5 miles off site. It has affected the Ash Coulee creek,  but has not gone into the Little Missouri River.

The Industrial Commission’s oil and gas division says that pipeline dates to the 1980s, but the section of the pipeline in question was replaced in 2012. State mineral resources director Lynn Helms saids the pipeline only had pressure gauges on it to detect leaks.

An oil company with a track record of spills has had another big one -- a large saltwater spill at an oil well pad outside of Williston. As Prairie Public’s Emily Guerin reports, it’s the 12th largest saltwater spill since the Bakken oil boom began.

Around 114,000 gallons of saltwater ran into a dry creekbed after breaching the berm on a well pad. The spill was likely caused by a broken valve on a pipeline, according to the North Dakota Department of Health.

The state Department of Mineral Resources is proposing a new rule to keep more spills contained in an oil well pad.

“What we’ve noticed in the statistics on spills over the last couple of years is that the percentage that are contained to the well site has been dropping,” said state mineral resources director Lynn Helms.

Helms says about two out of three spills that should have been contained on site were not contained. He says the simplest solution is to build a “perimeter berm” around the outside of the well pad.

Mountrail County oil well now under control

Oct 21, 2015

An out of control oil well in Mountrail County has finally been subdued after being pumped full of mud and clay. Prairie Public Radio’s Emily Guerin reports the well had been spraying oil since late Saturday night.

Pipeline safety bill introduced

Jan 28, 2015

A bi-partisan bill has been introduced in the Legislature dealing with pipeline safety.

"With all the incidents that have been happening lately, we've got to do something," said Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson), the bill's main sponsor.

The bill requires pipelines – including saltwater pipelines – built after June 30th, 2017 to have flow meters, automatic shutoff valves and pressure cutoff switches.

Wardner says he wonders whether those things actually work.