2013 has been a harsh year for Colorado. First came drought and the devastation left by the state’s worst wildfire on record, and now extreme flooding caused by record breaking rain fall.
At the peak of the downpour last Thursday, it is estimated that at 4-6 inches of rain fell in less than 12 hours.
This once in 1,000 year weather event has now forced the shut-down of 1000 oil and gas wells north of Denver. Broken lines and floating storage tanks are among the damage surveyed, and boats as well as helicopters are being used to transport employees where road access is no longer possible.
Anadarko and Encana are among those forced to stop operations in the Denver-Julesburg Basin.
This video shot at Big Thompson Canyon shows the flood’s intensity and some of the damage caused:
Cathy Proctor of the Denver Business Journal writes:
Colorado’s oil and gas industry has shut down 1,000 wells in the Denver-Julesburg Basin north of Denver and its employees are using vehicles, boats and — in some cases — helicopters to get to and assess sites impacted by the state’s devastating floodwaters.
Once the floodwaters recede, state regulators and the energy companies are expected to tackle the question of environmental contamination from the flood as well as remediation, Mike King, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, said Monday.
“The events of the last four or five days have been very astounding and the ramifications, the loss of life and property across Colorado, is staggering,” King said.
“This is not going to be fixed overnight and the impacts and ramifications will linger for a long time,” he said.
For Colorado’s oil and gas industry working in the booming fields north of Denver, impacts vary depending on the location of their operations.
“We have operations ranging from unaffected, to in standing water, to locations in rushing water,” Tisha Schuller, the president of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA), an industry trade group, told state regulators Monday morning.
“Companies from the smallest to the largest operators are engaged in round-the-clock assessment, and that’s been underway since Wednesday night [Sept. 11]. As far as we know, all the wells affected by flooding have been shut in,” Schuller said.
Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: APC), one of Colorado’s biggest energy companies, had shut in 600 wells as of Monday morning, the company said on its website.
That’s three time the 200 wells the company had shut down as of Friday morning.
On Friday, Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. also had shut down wells north of Denver in the flooded area.
As of Monday, Encana had shut down 397 wells, out of a total of 1,241 the company operates north of Denver.
“With regard to potential environmental impacts, we have plans in place to inspect all of our facilities and we’ve developed an environmental inspection checklist to assist with the assessment,” Encana spokesman Doug Hock said.
“We’re using GIS to help prioritize lower lying facilities that may likely have greater impacts. We’re keeping [state regulators] updated as we move forward with these inspections,” Hock said.
Anadarko, in its statement, said restarting its operations will be “significantly delayed” due to damage from Colorado’s floods.
“The majority of our drilling, completions and workover activities in the affected areas of the [Wattenberg] field [an oil and gas field that’s centered on the area most deeply affected by the floods] have been shut down, and restarting the activities is expected to be significantly delayed due to road and location conditions,” Anadarko said.
“We expect to provide more details once an assessment of our recovery time is available,” the company said,
Anadarko said it’s using “air service” to monitor the basin, and has construction crews on standby and available to assist issues.
Anadarko said it’s using the company’s Emergency Operations Center with about 20 employees in Denver and more than 150 in the Greater Wattenberg area [north of Denver].
Schuller said the industry is aware of two storage tanks that were floating in the floodwater.
She said the companies also have reported broken lines at some of its facilities.
“Every facility that’s assessable has been visited and as the water recedes every facility will be visited,” Schuller said, adding that industry personnel were coordinating with emergency responders.
“In some cases all the roads [to wellsites] have been washed out and in some cases we re responding by boats,” she said.
Wellsites also are being monitored remotely, and companies have developed environmental checklists to assess damage at the site when they can be reached, Schuller said.
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