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Fisher, J. Berton1, Kerry L. Sublette2
(1) Exponent, Tulsa, OK
(2) University of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK

ABSTRACT: Environmental Releases from E&P Operations in Oklahoma: Type, Volume, Causes and Prevention

The 17,093 releases of fluids from exploration and production (E&P )operations in Oklahoma as reported to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) for the ten-year period from 1993 to 2002, resulted from both preventable and non-preventable causes. The primary origin of oil and saltwater releases were line leaks (34.8%), tanks (32.7%), wellheads (12.9%), abandoned/unplugged wells (8.8%), purging wells (5.8%) and surface equipment (4.9%). Important causes of fluid releases were, in order of decreasing number, tank overflows, intentional dumping or illegal activity, storms, lightning strikes, third-party accidents, dike overflows, pit overflows and the actions of livestock or wildlife. Approximately 30% of all releases resulted in reported damage to surface water (15.3% ), crops or livestock (11.6%), groundwater (2.8%), fish or wildlife (0.4%). For this period, 47.7% of all E&P complaints to OCC involved the release of fluids, and, on an annual basis, complaints involving the release of fluids comprised an essentially constant percentage of the total number of complaints (46.1% to 52.1% of total complaints received). Releases identified as involving oil and/or saltwater comprised 68.7% of all releases. Quantified releases of oil had a median volume of 10 bbls while quantified releases of saltwater had a median volume of 40 bbls. For those releases in which volume of both oil and saltwater were quantified, the volume of saltwater spilled was approximately 76% of the total volume of oil and saltwater released.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90026©2004 AAPG Annual Meeting, Dallas, Texas, April 18-21, 2004.