Pipeline spill of oil wastewater bigger than first reported

February 1, 2020 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A pipeline spill of oilfield wastewater in northwestern North Dakota has affected more cropland than originally reported.

State environmental scientist Bill Suess said regulators were notified earlier this month of the 8,400 gallon (31,797 liter) pipeline leak in Renville County. The pipeline is operated by Texas-based Cobra Oil and Gas.

Regulators initially said about 1,000 square feet (92.9 square meters) of cropland was affected. The landowner, Sherwood resident Allan Engh, said people involved in the cleanup of the site told him the brine could have contaminated as much as 400,000 square feet (37,161 square meters) of soil.


Suess told the Bismarck Tribune that estimate could be accurate but the official number is not yet known.

“We know it’s bigger, we know it’s impacting a very large area,” Suess said.

Cobra Oil and Gas did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Suess said the spill of produced water happened 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) north of Sherwood, and within a 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) of the U.S.-Canada border. The cause of the pipeline leak is unknown.

Produced water is a mixture of saltwater and oil that can contain drilling chemicals. It’s a byproduct of oil and gas development.