Fracking Fluid Spill Reported at North Dakota Oil Well

A second fracking fluid spill in North Dakota has the state’s oil regulator vowing to review drilling policies there. The spill took place on Saturday at an oil well near New Town where hydraulic fracturing was taking place. The oil well is operated by Whiting Petroleum Corporation.

According to The Bismarck Tribune, Whiting Petroleum shut down the well after 5,600 gallons of chemical-laced fracture water and 420 gallons of oil were spilled inside a lined dike around the well. A valve on the wellhead failed, causing the leak. Workers were evacuated from the site on Saturday, but no injuries were reported.

As of yesterday, the leak had slowed dramatically but sub-zero temperatures were making it difficult to stop the flow. The liquid was held within the site, with the help of some temporary dike work, and was being hauled to a disposal facility. The state health department has said no environmental damage occurred.

Whiting Petroleum, based in Denver Colorado, operates wells in several states, including North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas. Its largest operations are in Western North Dakota, the Bismarck Tribune said.

This is the second fracturing accident that has occurred in North Dakota since September. That month, a well blowout near Kildeere resulted in a 2,500 gallon spill. Sanjel Corp., of Canada, was conducting the fifth of a 19-stage fracture, each one injecting 370,000 gallons of water and gel chemicals at 8,000 pounds per square inch of pressure when the blowout occurred. According to the Bismarck Tribune, the state’s Department of Mineral Resources is preparing a complaint against Denbury Resources of Texas, the leaseholder of that well, for a violation that caused that incident.

So far, groundwater monitoring around the Killdeer well detects no contamination, but the state plans to drill two more monitoring wells, deeper and closer to that well.

Lynn Helms, head of the state’s Department of Mineral Resources, says he now plans to review drilling regulations due to the two incidents.

According to the Bismarck Tribune, there are a record 159 drilling rigs in North Dakota, and oil production there is at an all-time high.

Help filing claims and other legal assistance for victims of water contamination due to fracking is available at the Water Contamination Center.

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