Problems with the inner liner of a water storage tank caused the release of millions of gallons of freshwater at an oil drilling site in eastern El Paso County in December, according to a report by Hilcorp Energy Co.
The release occurred at Hilcorp ’s Myers well northwest of Highway 94 and Peyton Highway. The release involved about 3.1 million gallons of freshwater; the water had not been mixed with chemicals for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which forces a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into a well under high pressure to unlock oil and gas deposits trapped in tight rock formations.
“There was one main causal factor identified during the investigation,” states the results of Hilcorp’s investigation in a report posted on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s website. “Multiple holes/tears/seam issues were identified. It is believed that water leakage led to the containment failure. It is believed that if the liner was in optimal condition, the containment would not have failed.”
Only one of two freshwater tanks on the Myers site failed, but the second tank was located downhill of the first. So when the first tank failed, the rushing water caused the collapse of the second tank, Hilcorp had stated earlier. Select Energy Services built the tanks for Hilcorp.
The report found workers did not respond quickly enough once the release began to occur.
“Employees did not shut down work, and that could have assisted in limiting the resulting incident,” the report states.
Hilcorp began drilling its exploratory Myers well in late November; it fracked at the site in December after the release occurred. Results from that drilling have not been released.
Hilcorp and Ultra Resoures, both Houston-based companies, have targeted the Niobrara shale formation roughly a mile beneath the surface in El Paso County. Ultra has fracked one well in the county but has shelved plans for any more drilling after test results showed the oil that was recovered was “immature” and unfit for commercial production. Ultra, which also owns 18,000 acres of the Banning Lewis Ranch in eastern Colorado Springs, has said it is waiting on Hilcorp’s results before deciding its next step.
Contact Ned Hunter: 636-0275.