2004 Divide Creek Seep
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The beginning of the end of West Divide Creek

The Earthquake That "Never Was"

Complaint Filed in Response to the "Arbaney" Blowout

Post Independent Article: Gas flare sets ground rumbling

The COGCC Issues a Notice of Alleged Violation (NOAV)

EnCana Disputes COGCC Findings and NOAV

COGCC Withdraws NOAV

The truth, however, lives on...

 

 

 


 

 

The Beginning of the End of West Divide Creek

 

 

     

 

   
According to EnCana's lead environmental health and safety manager, The Twin Creek well [O1E pad] on the eastern canyon rim overlooking Summerhawk valley  "encountered a plug" and resulted in a nearly 14 hour flare on January 7th, 2004. The clouds you see are a hundreds-of-feet high blanket of thick smoke that enveloped the valley and our home (this event occurred during a days-long temperature inversion). I filmed outside for three minutes and had to go inside because my throat was so sore. It stayed that way for a week afterward. My Mother stood outside with me for a couple of minutes, and her throat was sore for two weeks. The next morning, flakes of black particulate peppered the snow all around our home and surrounding area.

[Review note added July 06-08]: On reviewing these events, we were told this well "encountered a plug". But I wonder if EnCana was using 'underbalanced' technology with this well too, and I wonder if a "plug" is really what happened. It looks a lot like the Arbaney event which soon followed. I wonder if this well also took a kick and perhaps also played a part in changing the geology of the area. It's interesting that the new seep areas are just to the South West of this well - maybe a quarter mile.
 

   

 

   
COGIS - Complaint Reports


 
Form 18/18A                                                    Related   Doc
Date Rec'd: 1/9/2004 Complaint taken by:   JAIME ADKINS
DocNum: 1126580 API number:   05-045-09215
Complaint Type:  
Complainant Information
Name: LISA BRACKEN
Address:  
Date Received: 1/9/2004
Connection to Incident:  
Description of Complaint:
Operator: ENCANA OIL & GAS (USA) INC
Oper. No.

100185

Date of Incident: N/A
Type of Facility: WELL
Well Name/No. TWIN CREEK  1-15B (O1E)
County Name: GARFIELD    
Operator contact:  
qtrqtr: NWSW section: 1 township: 7S range: 92W meridian: 6
 
 


 

Complaint Issue
Issue:      HEALTH AND SAFETY Assigned To:     JAIME ADKINS Status:      Resolved     9/7/2011
Description: LISA CALLED TO COMPLAIN ABOUT FLARING ACTIVITY ON THE ABOVE WELL. SHE EXPRESSED CONCERN ABOUT INCONSISTENCIES BETWEEN WHAT SHE OBSERVED AND WHAT ENCANA SAID HAPPENED. SHE SAID FLARING OCCURRED FOR 12 HOURS AND THEY SAID IT WAS ONLY 1 HOUR. SHE SAID EXHAUST FROM THE FLARING CAUSED HEADACHES, BURNING EYES, ETC. EVENT WAS REPORTED TO EPA AND GARFIELD COUNTY 1-8-04.
Resolution: D. Grisso of Encana contacted 1/9/2004; Lisa Bracken contacted 1/9/2004: flaring not a violation. COGCC asked Encana not to flare during inversion layers or without water to trap emissions.
Letter Sent?:      N Report Links:     


 

Operator/COGCC Response
Name Phone Date
D GRISSO  ENCANA   1/9/2004
CALLED D GRISSO. HE SAID THEY FLARED 12 HOURS. 1 HOUR OF HIGH CONDENSATE LEVELS. FLARING WAS NECESSARY BECAUSE OF A LINE FREEZE 2 MILES AWAY. OPERATOR THOUGHT PROBLEM WAS A SAND PLUG ON LOCATION. PROBLEMS PERSISTED AFTER CLEARING LINE TO FLARE PIT. WELL WAS SI UNTIL FREEZE CLEARED. THEN CLEANED UP. DAVID SAID OPERATOR ERROR WAS TO FLARE WITHOUT WATER IN PIT TO TRAP PARTICULATES AND THAT HE WAS INSTRUCTED NOT TO FLARE WITHOUT WATER IN THE FUTURE. WATER WAS HAULED TO THE SITE AND PUT IN PIT TO FINISH FLARING.
 L BRACKEN   1/9/2004
I CALLED LISA AND EXPLAINED THE FLARING WAS NOT A VIOLATION AND IS A NORMAL, REQUIRED PROCEDURE BUT THAT I ASKED ENCANA TO NOT FLARE DURING INVERSION LAYERS OR WITHOUT WATER TO TRAP EMISSIONS. I EXPLAINED FLOWBACK UNITS STILL HAVE DIFFICULTIES AND FREEZES. SHE INDICATED SHE THOUGHT FLARING SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED. SHE SAID SHE WAS ALSO CONTACTED BY CHRIS WILLIAMS.

 

   

 

 

An Induced Seismic Disruption, and The Precursor Event to the 2004 West Divide Creek Seep

The Earthquake That "Never Was"

 

 

     

The Arbaney blowout was an event similar in its cause (blowout preventer) to the Deepwater Horizon well (Gulf of Mexico disaster). Because of its seismic nature, it likely set the stage and therefore contributed to a catastrophic natural gas seep which began in 2004 and continues to this day, contaminating the aquifer of West Divide Creek with benzene.

On March 09, 2004 The Arbaney well (P3-Pad) was in the process of "underbalanced" drilling (wherein mud weight alone is employed to hold down encountered gas pockets) when it experienced a massive "kick" (that is, the driller encountered a gas pocket which introduced a great deal of upward pressure on the well bore).

This well is adjacent to the former Dietrich property and site of contamination to come. This is from a site referred to in some capacity in official documentation as (named) the Magic. As a note to researchers, complaints and other official reports associated with this well appear under a variety of spellings including Arbaney, Arbany, Magic and Majik

According to a variety of reports, the crew was not properly trained on the operation of the valve assembly, and was therefore unable to control the pressure from the encounter. This  caused the erupting gas to  invade existing faults, open them further, create new faulting or collapse other faults in an effort to release to the surface. This situation produced a seismic event which shook the ground in a predominantly straight line extending for over a mile... rumbling beneath our home and our neighbors - like an earthquake - the energy finally exiting into Summerhawk Canyon. This happened twice in near succession.

Eye witness accounts were dismissed and testimonials were officially misreported by the Colorado Oil and gas Conservation Commission, contrasting with known conversational contexts. Additionally, EnCana disputed the eyewitness accounts of many residents, claiming that any seismic disruption was false and had not occurred. Indeed, seismic reporting devices in Golden Colorado revealed no record of such an event. However, regardless of a conspicuous absence of data, the geologic evidence exists and is significant, including the purported compaction of an entire ridge by several feet as reported by a neighbor. Huge boulders cracked apart from the parent outcrop formation in Summerhawk Valley, to finally fall from the canyon wall during hydraulic fracturing operations which would occur approximately six years later.

 

 

 

   

 

 

Complaint Filed in Response to the "Arbaney" Blowout

 

 

   

 

COGIS - Complaint Reports

Form 18/18A                                                    Related   Doc

 

 

 

 

Date Rec'd:

3/9/2004

Complaint taken by:

  JAIME ADKINS

DocNum:

1126576

API number:

  05-045-09463

Complaint Type:

HEALTH AND SAFETY

 

 

 

Complainant Information

 

Name:

LISA BRACKEN

Address:

 

Date Received:

3/9/2004

Connection to Incident:

NEIGHBOR

 

Description of Complaint:

 

Operator:

ENCANA OIL & GAS (USA) INC

 

Oper. No.

100185

 

Date of Incident:

3/9/2004

 

Type of Facility:

WELL

 

Well Name/No.

MAGIC  10-2 (P3)

 

County Name:

GARFIELD

 

 

Operator contact:

RICHARD EVERSPECHER

qtrqtr: SESE

section: 3

township: 7S

range: 92W

meridian: 6

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

Complaint Issue

Issue:

     HEALTH AND SAFETY

Assigned To:

    JAIME ADKINS

Status:

     In Process

Description:

LISA CALLED TO COMPLAIN ABOUT THE FLARING OF GAS DURING DRILLING OPERATIONS AT THE MAJIC 10-2 WE.. SAID SHE AND FAMILY GOT HEADACHES. SHE SAID THE FLARING OCCURRED FOR ABOUT AN HOUR LAST NIGHT AND WANTED IT DOCUMENTED. I SPOKE WITH RICHARD EVERSPECHER. HE CALLED BEFORE LISA DID TO REPORT SHE HAD COMPLAINED ABOUT THE FLARING TO KATHY FRIESEN. HE SAID THEY WERE DRILLING WITH THEIR UNDERBALANCED SYSTEM AND TOOK A KICK. IT TOOK ABOUT 1 HOUR TO CIRCULATE IT OUT AND IT WAS DONE SAFELY WITH NO HAZARDS OR ABNORMAL EVENTS. HE SAID THEY WOULD BE DONE DRILLING IN ABOUT 3 DAYS.

           
   
 
Reports, like the one above can be incomplete, inconsistent, contradictory or simply false, and unfortunately frequently are. This "Complaint Issue" statement incorrectly identifies my complaint as one about "flaring" rather than to report a seismic event and possible explosion along with an ongoing flare at a rig site. It also contradicts not only what witnesses heard from the driller, but notes that I had contacted an EnCana representative who provided information, which I had not. Typically, such representatives are not available to answer such questions - even for officials. Further, it reports that the flare only lasted an hour - when in fact, it burned for several hours. This type f reporting can create a serious misconception to follow when journalists - believing they are quoting credible sources - utilize such reports to in-fill data in order to create a story on a deadline. I attempted to correct these errors with a fax to the COGCC, but the corrections never occurred - possibly because shortly after this event, the seep occurred and staff became quite preoccupied.
 

 

 

 

Post Independent Article: Gas flare sets ground rumbling

 

 

   

 

Gas flare sets ground to rumbling three weeks prior to
 discovery of gas seep

http://www.postindependent.com/article/20040416/VALLEYNEWS/40415024&parentprofile=search

Re-printed with permission

An open-air natural gas explosion on the afternoon of March 9 was probably not related to a more recent seep of natural gas in West Divide Creek, officials say.

But residents of the area have cited this incident as a possible cause of the seep, because of the dramatic shock that rumbled through the entire area with the release and flaring of the gas.

Walter Lowry, director of community and industry relations for EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc., said the incident happened as workers for a gas well drilling subcontractor were drilling one of four bores at a site known as the Arbaney well. EnCana owns the wells.

This particular bore is known as Magic 10-2, according to the report on a complaint on the incident filed with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the state regulatory agency. The gas well is near County Road 331, slightly more than a mile west of the natural gas seep discovered March 30 in West Divide Creek.

The drilling crew, employed by Patriot Drilling, of Casper, Wyo., was using a technique called “managed pressure drilling,” said Richard Eberspecher, drilling superintendent for the Mamm Creek Field, the area where the Arbaney wells are located.

Eberspecher is a drilling consultant for EnCana who was present during the incident.

Workers used a choke

to control pressure

In conventional drilling, drillers handle the pressure of gas during the drilling process by placing a mixture called drilling mud in the drill hole, to hold the gas down. In managed pressure drilling, crews use a device called a choke at the top of the well to regulate the amount of gas released from the drill hole, Eberspecher said.

Using the choke reduces the weight of mud the crew must use, and allows them to drill faster. The choke has gauges that show the amount of gas pressure in the hole, and regulates the pressure automatically. The usual pressure is around 90 or 100 pounds per square inch, Eberspecher said.

On the afternoon of March 9, the choke on Magic 10-2 was showing abnormal pressure, and the crew, unfamiliar with the equipment, called representatives of M-I Swaco, the company that rents and maintains the choke units, Eberspecher said.

“Our guys hadn’t drilled with managed pressure, so they shut her in and called Swaco,” he said.

Swaco employees got there in about a half hour. The choke was showing 300 pounds of pressure, Eberspecher said. They shut down the well to see whether the choke was functioning right, and released the gas.

Gas ignited in a pit

Natural gas under great pressure burst out of the well, and was ignited in what’s known as a flare pit.

Regulations require natural gas drilling operations to burn off, or flare, the gas that escapes at a wellhead, said Doug Dennison, Garfield County’s oil and gas auditor. The gas is ignited in a pit surrounded by a berm so surrounding vegetation is protected from fire.

“You get a short burst of gas to surface,” Eberspecher said, “and it hits the fire bucket and causes some concussion.”

“That’s when the neighbors felt this rumbling,” Dennison said.

The Swaco employees did two tests, Eberspecher said, and released the gas pressure twice.

Stephanie Dietrich, whose house is less than 100 yards from Magic 10-2, felt a rumbling under her feet. After 10 minutes, she felt another rumble.

“I thought there was an earthquake,” Dietrich said.

After she realized the gas well was the source of the concussion, she and her next-door neighbor walked up onto a rock outcrop nearby to watch.

“The flares were just unbelievable,” she said. “It looked like gas was just exploding up into the air.”

Dietrich said a drilling worker, whom she wouldn’t identify, told her that stones were flying up off the ground into his face during the incident.

‘Didn’t look like normal activity’

Dietrich’s husband, Michael Dietrich, said he drove home during the flaring.

“There were flames 100 to 200 feet in the air,” he said. “People were stopping on the county road, because it looked like they had lost control of things.”

“It didn’t look to me like any normal activity I’ve seen on any of these wells,” Michael Dietrich continued.

Lisa Bracken, who lives over a mile from the Arbaney wells, felt the concussion as well.

“We heard a tremendous rumbling,” Bracken said. “We felt it.”

Stephanie Dietrich called Bracken, who drove to the Dietrich’s house with a video camera.

“It burned really black, with this huge fireball, for about an hour,” Bracken said.

Bracken said she thinks some drilling techniques used by EnCana and its contractors are unsafe and unproven, and the company’s goal is to get gas out of the ground as fast as possible.

“I believe this is about getting more holes in the ground before the price drops,” she said.

No connection to gas seep

Michael Dietrich said he doesn’t think the industry is adequately regulated, and is a threat to public safety. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is charged with protecting the public from company abuses, he said, “but they refuse to drop a hammer on these guys.”

Brian Macke, deputy director of the COGCC, said the March 9 incident didn’t involve any violations of law or regulations that he was aware of.

“I’ve asked our field staff to take another look at it, but at this time, there doesn’t appear to be a rule violation,” Macke said.

He also said he doesn’t see how the incident could be connected with the natural gas seep in West Divide Creek discovered March 30.

“I believe, while there may have been considerable sound impact, it would be highly unlikely that this would have had any effect underground,” Macke said.

 


[ Of note: Three days after the Arbaney blowout, a similar occurrence shook the earth in Carslbad New Mexico and promoted the evacuation of around 500 people, during an under-balanced drilling event. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2004-03-12-well_x.htm ]

 

   

 

 

The COGCC Issues a Notice of Alleged Violation (NOAV))

 

 

   
COGIS - NOAV Report
Operator Information                                                   Related   Docs by API   Single Doc   Docs under NOAV
DocNum: 200060225 Date Rec'd: 7/19/2004
Operator: ENCANA OIL & GAS (USA) INC Oper. No. 100185
Address: 950 17TH ST STE 2600
Company Rep. JOEL FOX
Well Name/No. MAGIC  10-2 (P3)
Location SESE  3  T7S  R92W  6
Fac.ID: 270125  Fac.Type: WELL 
API number: 05-045 -09463 County GARFIELD  
COGCC Rep: DAVID  DILLON Phone: (303 ) 894-2100
Alleged Violation:
Date of Alleged Violation:  3/9/2004 Approx. time of violation:  1:30:00 PM
 Staff received a complaint from a landowner near the above site that a loud percussion caused damage to their residence and several other structures in the area. Staff was contacted by Richard Everspecher who acknowledged a slightly larger than normal percussion from ignition of flared gas. EnCana staff later stated that the percussion was louder than normal because pressure was allowed to build up higher than normal because the choke orifice was plugged and no one on location knew how to unplug it and relieve the pressure. They stated it took a while to locate someone who knew how to unplug the choke which resulted in the higher pressure and increase gas volume. Rule 603.i.(8) states all rig employees shall have adequate understanding of and be able to operate the blowout prevention equipment system.
Act, Order, Regulation, Permit Conditions Cited:
 Rule 603.i.(8)
Abatement or Corrective Action Required to be Performed by Operator
 EnCana should provide staff with a written explanation why rig personnel were unable to unplug the choke in a normal time frame and what will be done in the future to prevent re-occurrence. EnCana should explain whay they should not be fined for the violation. EnCana should have a certified structural engineer inspect the alleged damaged structures and determine if the damage was caused by the percussion and if so determine if the structures present a threat to the safety of the residents.
Abatement or Corrective Action Required to be Completed by:  8/19/2004
This section to be completed by Operator when alleged violation is corrected
Company Rep:  JAMIE ADKINS Title:  
Signature?   Date:    7/19/2004
Company Comments:
 
COGCC Signature? Y Date:  9/17/2004  
Resolution approved by: MORRIS BELL Title: 


 

Final Resolution
Date   Case Closed?   Letter Sent?   COGCC person
9/17/2004   Y       DAVID DILLON
EnCana responded by letter detailing incident and that the rig crew was able to operate the BOP system. The choke for the MPD was plugged and the crew waited until the contractor arrived to unplug that choke.

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

EnCana Disputes COGCC Findings and NOAV

 

 

     

 


 

 


 

 

Complainant Information

 

 

 

 

 

 

Complaint Issue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

COGCC Withdraws NOAV

 

 

       

 

 

The truth lives on...
 in the memories of residents, and...
in a very obscure complaint, complete with narrative
(depicting at least one neighbor's account)

 

 

   


The NOAV was soon after withdrawn on a technicality and very troublesome circumstances involving a neighbor badgered by, then, COGCC staff. The Arbaney Blowout went virtually ignored by COGCC and EnCana - never benefiting from a thorough engineering, environmental or hydro-geolgoic review until 2010 whereupon the 2008 appearance of thermogenic gas in two neighboring domestic water wells sparked a new investigation, and surprise... found critical failures with the Arbaney Well.

[Side note:  The West Divide Creek component of that same 2008 seep was largely excised from the investigation and remains denied by the COGCC, despite clear scientific evidence of impact (via a soil gas survey conducted in 2010). The 2010 investigation that followed the 2008 impacts unfortunately ended up being cleaved of its hydrologic study, narrowly confined in its geologic study, incomplete in its environmental review and prematurely concluded. The engineering component, however, yielded some truly startling findings... (shown here http://journeyoftheforsaken.com/dividecreekseep2008thirteen.htm#ThirdPartyReview which perhaps influenced the sudden cessation or incomplete review  of the other components.]

Back to the Arbaney NOAV...

Important further testimony and documentation strongly contested the COGCC's finding as well as EnCana's claims which minimized the Arbaney event. That information can be found below by researching the document number in a database search or by clicking the links below:

Despite the COGCC's official conclusions, the scope of their inquiry and basis of their findings were challenged by important and contradictory testimony offered by eyewitnesses as noted in the "narrative" of this associated follow-up complaint filed months later (01-03-05) and included below. Fortunately, the following complaint was much better documented and inclusive of additional, credible eye-witness accounts.

( Link to narrative:   1417658 Complaint Report (Form 18) )

 


COGIS - Complaint Reports

Form 18/18A                                                    Related   Doc

 

 

 

 

Date Rec'd:

1/3/2005

Complaint taken by:

  JAY KRABACHER

DocNum:

1417658

API number:

  05-045-09461

Complaint Type:

EXPLOSION

 

 

 

Complainant Information

 

Name:

JIM EUBANKS

Address:

 

Date Received:

1/3/2005

Connection to Incident:

 

 

Description of Complaint:

 

Operator:

ENCANA OIL & GAS (USA) INC

 

Oper. No.

100185

 

Date of Incident:

3/9/2004

 

Type of Facility:

WELL

 

Well Name/No.

MAGIC  10-1A (P3)

 

County Name:

GARFIELD

 

 

Operator contact:

 

qtrqtr: SESE

section: 3

township: 7S

range: 92W

meridian: 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Complaint Issue

Issue:

     EXPLOSION

Assigned To:

    BOB CHESSON

Status:

     Resolved     12/27/2004

Description:

COMPLAINT REGARDING "EXPLOSION" ON ARBANY WELL PAD. PLEASE SEE FILE FOR NARRATIVE AND OTHER INFORMATION.

Resolution:

 

Letter Sent?:

     Y

Report Links:

    

 

           

 

Final Resolution

Date

 

Case Closed?

 

Letter Sent?

 

COGCC person

12/27/2004

 

Y

 

Y

 

JAY KRABACHER

 

Document containing “narrative” Follows:

Document Identifier

Document Number

Document Name

Date

File Size (KB)

1417658

1417658

Complaint Report (Form 18)

1-03-2005

219

 

 

 

   

 

 

Even amid rumbling earthquakes, toxic fireballs and terrified  neighbors, nothing could have prepared any of us for the devastation to come...

 

 


 

 

 

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