Blow out was big, neighbors say – Tioga Tribune

On Tuesday, the Dakota Resource Council issued a statement critical of the state’s “continuous secrecy” in relation to such incidents in the oil patch.

Blow out was big, neighbors say

By Cecile Krimm
A blow out last week on a well north of Tioga spewed fluid for days, according to neighbors.
Tim Sundhagen and his brother, Scott, farm the land and were on the scene in the hours Friday, May 9, after the blow out on the Ron Burgundy 3-23-14H.

The location is operated by Emerald Oil of Denver, Colo.

“Their response was a clustered mess,” said Tim.

The site is located in Section 23, South Meadow Township, seven miles north and six miles west of Tioga.
With the state Oil and Gas Division unable to release many details due to the confidential status of the well, photos, video and statements by neighbors are the only documentation available about the amount of the fluid release.
“I bet it was 30 feet high, it was like Old Faithful,” said Scott, and the spew continued for several days, according to Tim.

Killed on Monday

Emerald Oil CEOMcAndrew Rudisill said the blow out was under control by Sunday, May 11, and killed completely on Monday, May 12. A statement reporting the event went out from the Oil and Gas Division shortly before noon that day.

“The kill of the well and the clean up of the well were pretty quick,” Rudisill said.
Photos show the location with liquid nearly to the rim of a dike rimming the site. Based on conversations with workers onsite, Tim Sundhagen said the well was being fracked under low pressure when the blow out occurred.
“It never lit up, but it could have,” said Tim, because of the combination of gas, frack fluid and oil he believed were involved.
Rudisill expressed relief no one was hurt. He said only a small amount of fresh and salt water came out of the hole, since very little had been pumped in.

While Rudisill describes an efficient and satisfactory cleanup, Sundhagen said it was frantic.
“They were just so focused on getting it shut down,” said Sundhagen. Aware of an earlier cut in the dike, he asked if the cut had been filled.

“They went and looked with flashlights, and sure enough, it hadn’t been filled,” he said.
The cut was later plugged.

Dike saved the day

The Sundhagens had asked for a dike when the location was built due to concerns any overflow could send fluid into a 3,000 acre federal wetland about one-eighth of a mile away. Several rural residences are located within one-eighth to 1 mile away.
“That dike we requested saved them a bunch of money,” Tim said, because it contained most of the fluid.
Rudisill said no fluid left the site.

Tim Sundhagen said grass in a nearby pasture is discolored from spray blown off the site by strong winds Friday. Rudisill said the appropriate areas will be tested and remediation will occur, if necessary.
The possibility of just such an incident is one reason the Sundhagens believe every well location should be diked, but oil companies don’t like them.

“When it rains, it fills up their location and the water can’t leave,” said Sundhagen, which may explain the earlier cut.

Aftermath

Approximately 66 hours after the event, the state released information reporting a “well control incident” and notified the public there was no threat to health or safety. By that time, a team from Boots & Coots, a well control contractor, had killed the well.
Rudisill said he doesn’t know the exact volume of the release.

On Tuesday, the Dakota Resource Council issued a statement critical of the state’s “continuous secrecy” in relation to such incidents in the oil patch.

“What safety measures were taken, if any, concerning nearby residents?” the statement asks.
“Current state officials have a track record of secrecy and cover-up and their handling of this blow out adds more fuel to growing concerns about their ability to handle problems in the oil fields.”

The DRC says the state too often protects the rights of oil companies, while keeping the public in the dark.

One Comment

  • “The DRC says the state too often protects the rights of oil companies, while keeping the public in the dark.” This statement applies to every state that fossil fuels are being extracted. Wake up, People.

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