There have been 66 oil-related spills and 8 oil fires in Montana so far this year

Click to read BOGC report. Photo: Montana Board of Oil and Gas
Click to read BOGC report. Photo: Montana Board of Oil and Gas

According to data published by the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation (BOGC), in 2015 there have been a total of 74 “undesirable” oil-related incidents in Montana through June 22. Of these, 66 were spills of oil and/or particulate water, and eight were fires. According to the report, about half of the spills were contained on the well pad, but the other half migrated beyond the pad. You can read the report by clicking the graphic at right (Microsoft Excel required).

Nearly all of the incidents occurred in the Bakken in northeast Montana, with a handful occurring in Toole and Blaine counties in the northern part of the state.

According to John Gizicki, BOGC Compliance Specialist, operators are required to report incidents as follows:

  • Spills greater than 50 barrels: Immediate notice to BOGC and written report
  • Spills between 10 and 49 barrels: Written report only
  • Spill of any size not contained at the well pad: Written report only
  • Any fire: Written report only

The complete undesirable incident reporting rules can be found in the Administrative Rules of Montana, Section 36.22.1103.

Cleaning up an oil spill on the Blackfeet Reservation. Photo: Associated Press

Cleaning up an oil spill on the Blackfeet Reservation. Photo: Associated Press

By my count, 16 of the incidents exceeded 50 barrels. The largest spill was 3500 barrels, on April 10 in Fallon County. Some of the spills listed on the report were not required to be reported because they were less than 10 barrels and were contained on the well pad, but Gizicki indicated that “some companies report everything.”

It is unknown how many companies comply with Montana rules, and whether there are any spills that went unreported.

This is why we need to act
By my calculation, 74 incidents in less than six months is about three incidents a week. More than one spill per week is not contained on the well pad, meaning the spill leaks into the soil.

No one who follows oil and gas issues should be surprised by the frequency of these incidents. Oil drilling is a dirty business.

But landowners should be extremely concerned about the failure of the state to protect them from the dangers of drilling. As we have often documented, the state of Montana does a poor job of reigning in the oil companies:

This is why local citizens in Carbon and Stillwater counties are fighting for local regulation of oil and gas activities through a process called citizen initiated zoning. Residents of the Silvertip Zone in Belfry have filed suit against the Carbon County Commissioners to assert their right to form a zone, and residents in Stillwater County will soon be presenting over 300 signatures from local landowners to establish a zone in the Nye area.

For information on what a citizen initiated zone would do, click here.

About davidjkatz

The Moses family has lived on the Stillwater River since 1974, when George and Lucile Moses retired and moved to the Beehive from the Twin Cities. They’re gone now, but their four daughters (pictured at left, on the Beehive) and their families continue to spend time there, and have grown to love the area. This blog started as an email chain to keep the family informed about the threat of increased fracking activity in the area, but the desire to inform and get involved led to the creation of this blog.
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4 Responses to There have been 66 oil-related spills and 8 oil fires in Montana so far this year

  1. You would think the universe is trying to tell us something…….?!$&

  2. Susan Moses says:

    Thanks again, millions, for this awesome coverage and advocacy

    Sue Moses

  3. Pingback: Well blowout near Watford City; this could be your 15 acres | Preserve the Beartooth Front

  4. Pingback: New scientific study shows fracking is strongly related to infant mortality | Preserve the Beartooth Front

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