Williams honored for recycled pit liners as state ponders changing removal rule

Local natural gas producers Williams and EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. each received two awards recently from the state, including one for Williams’ efforts to recycle pit liners.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission issued the honors as it continues to consider an industry request to repeal a new requirement that companies remove the pits rather than be allowed to bury them.

That requirement caused Williams to explore the recycling option.

Williams also was honored for a project requiring special engineering, helicopters and intensive manpower to revegetate a pipeline corridor in a remote part of the Parachute Creek Valley.

EnCana received an award for a program involving separating and stockpiling differing types of excavated topsoils to help re-establish soil microbial communities to aid revegetation.

The soil piles also serve as noise and visual barriers and help manage stormwater runoff.

EnCana also was honored for using temporary soil colorants and careful landscaping to reduce visual impacts of soil disturbance in the Piceance Basin.

Williams has begun sending the felt portion of pit liners to Utah to fuel burners at an asphalt batch plant.

A Denver facility is accepting the plastic parts of the liners and recycling them into industrial-grade products such as pallets and parking-lot bumpers.

The Colorado Petroleum Association has asked state regulators to reconsider the ban on burying pit liners.

It cites the costs involved in removing them and dumping them in landfills or otherwise disposing of them.

Williams supports the request because, while it’s easier to remove the contents and liners of some pits, it’s very difficult in the case of those that hold drilling cuttings, the company says.

The oil and gas commission has postponed action on the industry group’s request while the state awaits guidance from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Michael Freeman, an attorney for environmental and citizen groups, told the commission last week that the Williams award proves the value of keeping the current rule in place.

“It’s a classic example of how environmental regulation encourages innovation,” he said.


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