In N.M., 3,600 violations, 1 court case, 0 fines
New Mexico oil and gas regulators haven't fined a single driller for violations this year. They didn't last year, either. Or the year before that. That's not for a lack of problems at well sites. Since 2010, inspectors recorded more than 3,600 violations.
When 2 wells meet, spills can often follow
When a geyser of oil and fracking fluid spewed out of an oil well on a farmer's field in Innisfail, Alberta, it coated 100 trees with a fine mist. About 20,000 gallons of oil and fluid collected on a snow-covered field and had to be cleaned up. The spill was caused by hydraulic fracturing -- not the activities surrounding drilling. A series of similar incidents are being reported across the United States and Canada.
Crude mishaps on trains spike as rail carries more oil
The number of spills and other accidents from railroad cars carrying crude oil has skyrocketed in recent years, up from one or two a year early in the previous decade to 88 last year. Only four of those were classified as serious by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and none involved injuries. So they didn't even approach the human tragedy caused by a runaway oil train in Quebec earlier this month.
OIL AND GAS SPILLS
Many mishaps among drillers, but few fines
If Kristi Mogen causes a crash on the road, she knows she'll probably get a ticket and have to pay a fine. So she's frustrated that Wyoming officials didn't fine Chesapeake Energy Corp. for an April 2012 blowout near her home outside Douglas, Wyo. The ruptured gas well spewed gas and chemicals for three days, forcing her and her neighbors to evacuate their homes. "There's no punishment on that. There's nothing," said Mogen, who believes the gas and chemicals released in the spill sickened her family. "They're just going around with business as usual." It may have surprised Mogen, but it's actually rare for state oil and gas regulators to hit companies with fines after spills and blowouts.
U.S. well sites in 2012 discharged more than Valdez
It went up orange, a gas-propelled geyser that rose 100 feet over the North Dakota prairie. But it was oil, so it came down brown. So much oil that when they got the well under control two days later, crude dripped off the roof of a house a half-mile away. "It had a pretty good reach," said Dave Drovdal, who owns the land where the Bakken Shale oil well, owned by Newfield Exploration Co., blew out in December near Watford City, N.D. "The wind was blowing pretty good. Some of it blew 2 miles." It was one of the more than 6,000 spills and other mishaps reported at onshore oil and gas sites in 2012, compiled in a months-long review of state and federal data by EnergyWire.