Wastewater wells are being tested near De Beque

Two major energy companies are testing wastewater wells north of De Beque in the Logan Wash area.

EnCana Oil and Gas (USA) and Occidental Petroleum are looking at putting disposal wells to use in the area, according to the Bureau of Land Management. Occidental is testing an existing well.

EnCana has moved beyond the testing phase and has an application on file with the BLM for the well, which would accept wastewater from drilling operations.

The disposal wells are a sign of the times, said Doug Hock, EnCana spokesman. In this slowing economy, the water that drillers would normally recycle and use to drill new wells is now simply wastewater.

“We have been fortunate in that we have been able to recycle the majority of our water, 90- plus percent (prior to the recession),” Hock said. “But with less activity it becomes more of a challenge.”

According to the BLM, many companies truck produced wastewater to evaporative wastewater ponds near Cisco, Utah, at a price of $10 a barrel or more.

EnCana, Hock said, does not use commercial disposal ponds and does not truck water to Cisco. The company uses its own disposal wells.

It has eight disposal wells in the Piceance Basin and four in the north Parachute area, but there is a need for more.

It is a safe process, Hock said.

“The protection of groundwater is the reason and the purpose behind the (underground injection control) process,” Hock said. The process is administered through the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, he added.

The small community of De Beque, east of Grand Junction, has had its share of wastewater-disposal issues. The community banded together to fight off proposals by other companies to build wastewater-disposal ponds near the town.

About five miles south of De Beque, the Black Mountain Disposal wastewater facility, which had its operating permits suspended by Mesa County, is fighting a lawsuit filed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment regarding a spill that occurred in 2001 and was never properly cleaned.

Hock said the deep-water disposal wells are a different animal than the evaporative wastewater ponds, like those Black Mountain Disposal uses.

“This water is going back where it came from, hundreds of feet below the ground,” Hock said.

“It is a very different type of disposal, and it is very well regulated.”

Representatives from Occidental were not immediately available for comment on this story.


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