Flooding shuts down nearly 2,000 oil wells in Colorado
Last week flooding in Colorado killed at least six people and left hundreds homeless. Now, the State is dealing with a whole new set of problems: 1,900 oil wells have been shut down as the oil and gas industry grapples with the damage.
It's estimated that more than 300 people are still missing after record-level rainfall flooded virtually all of Colorado last week. National Guard officials are evacuating thousands of people in what they say may be the largest airlift since Hurricane Katrina, the BBC reports.
Meanwhile, the oil and gas industry is assessing the damage on wells and oil fields.
According to Upstream Online – an international oil and gas publication – nearly 1,900 wells in northeastern Colorado have been shut as part of emergency procedures.
Canadian producer Encana told Upstream that it had restored 99 wells but 300 are still out of service.
"We still have not found any spills of any reportable quantity, but cannot not rule out future discoveries until we get to everything," a company representative told the publication.
Other companies in the area including Anadarko and Colorado Interstate Gas have also shut down several operations, with the latter declaring a "force majeure."
The Colorado government noted on its website that engineers and environmental protection specialists are assessing impacts to the oil and gas facilities.
Meanwhile, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission issued a release stating that it is working with the industry on assessing the impacts but that many areas are inaccessible due to water and damaged roadways.
Some locals are worried that broken oil facilities may contaminate water sources.
The Denver Post reported last week that oil drums, tanks and other debris had been swallowed by the South Platte River.
According to AlJazeera, Weld County – flooded by the South Platte river – is home to almost 20,000 active wells.
Environmentalist groups have posted photos on social media depicting oil and gas facilities under water.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Association says these images "seem extraordinary" but that the photos are inconclusive because they do not provide specific information on location. The Association has called on the public to submit photos with as much information as possible so that the industry can respond.