One More Brine Spill in ND

Monday, April 4, 2016 @ 04:04 PM gHale


Over 14,000 gallons of saltwater spilled from a central tank battery about 14 miles southwest of Grassy Butte in Billings County, ND, regulators said.

Cobra Oil and Gas Corp. reported the 14,280 gallons were released, contained and recovered at the site, said officials at the North Dakota Oil and Gas Division.

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The cause of the incident is an equipment failure, officials said.

The division said a state inspector has been to the site of the release.

Saltwater, or brine, is a byproduct of oil production. It is many times saltier than sea water and can easily kill vegetation.

Last month, a spill of more than 2,700 barrels of saltwater northeast of Williston, ND, reinforced the need for oil well pads to have adequate containment berms, one state agency.

Zavanna staff discovered the spill of 2,733 barrels, or 114,786 gallons, of produced water about 10 a.m. Sunday at an oil well pad about 4 miles northeast of Williston.

About 215 barrels that spilled remained on the oil well pad location and the remaining 2,518 barrels got off location, said Travis Pfaff, production manager for Zavanna.

The saltwater contaminated an estimated three-tenths of a mile of privately owned pasture land, Pfaff said.

The cause of the spill was an above-ground valve that failed, Pfaff said, adding the valve had been pressure-tested two weeks earlier.

The North Dakota Department of Health has had an inspector on site and work is still ongoing to determine the extent of the damage, said Bill Suess, spill investigation program manager.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission is considering proposed changes to state oil and gas rules, including a proposal to require oil sites to be surrounded by 1-foot containment berms to keep more spills on location.