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Rising Water Levels Put Colorado Oil & Gas On Alert

WELD COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)- The rising water levels in northeastern Colorado have Colorado's oil and gas industry taking action. More than 1,000 barrels of oil spilled from flooded tanks during the September 2013 floods. They want to make sure that doesn't happen again.

Two companies have shut down oil wells in recent days. By shutting them down energy companies are essentially turning them off, stopping the flow of oil into storage tanks that could become compromised in a flood.

oil well
(credit: CBS)

The Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission wants well operators along rivers in Weld and Boulder Counties to pay attention to rising water levels.

Andarko and PDC Energy companies responded by shutting down some of their wells along the Saint Vrain River to prevent leaks if a natural disaster damaged their tanks.

RELATED STORIES: September Flooding Story Archive

The preemptive action comes from lessons learned in the September 2013 floods where damaged tanks and flow lines spilled nearly 50,000 gallons of oil and 45,000 gallons of produced water into the environment.

Oil Tank
A damaged oil tank in Weld County (credit: CBS)

This time around, the energy companies aren't taking any chances.

Not everyone believes the shutdowns are necessary. Encana Energy confirms it is monitoring weather and rising water levels, but decided conditions do not yet warrant turning off its wells.

Anadarko released this statement regarding their action on the wells: In light of the recent weather, our operations teams did a great job of being very proactive, getting out in front to protect the environment by shutting in and continuously monitoring the small number of potentially affected well locations. We have a team that is constantly watching the weather conditions as well.

The motive for the energy companies to shut down the wells isn't just safety but also financial.

Cleanup and repairs during the 2013 floods cost energy companies millions of dollars.

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