13 Mar Tell COGCC to Protect Groundwater
Tell the COGCC to Protect Groundwater in the Wellbore Integrity Rulemaking
SB181 directed the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to undertake a wellbore integrity rulemaking to ensure that wells are drilled, constructed, operated, maintained and closed in a way that prevents spills, leaks and explosions. This rulemaking is technically complex, and a bit intimidating, but there is still plenty of opportunity for the public to participate.
Since 2016, there have been at least 40 incidents across the state that were the direct result of wellbore integrity issues. Well known examples include the 2017 Berthoud, CO incident where fracking operations caused drilling mud to leak out of nearby plugged and abandoned wells, and a 2017 explosion on a wellpad in Windsor, CO that took 17 hours to subdue.
The COGCC has put together a set of draft rules regulating everything from the cement and quality of steel used to build a well, the testing regimen operators must follow before they are allowed to frack a well, blowout prevention technology, and finally, an unprecedented, first-in-the-nation wellbore pressure monitoring and testing requirement to find and eliminate leaks as quickly as possible. However, there are a few areas where the rules need improvement. See Brief Overview for more background information
The hearing for this rulemaking is set to take place on March 25-26. In advance of the rulemaking, the COGCC is accepting comments from the public through their online portal here. COGCC is accepting written comments from the public until before the hearing begins on March 25, 2020. However, we would recommend submitting your comments by March 20th, so that the comments are included in the Commissioners’ packets to ensure that they have ample review time. See Comment Letter Template here.