An Eddy County oil and gas operator was fined by the state of New Mexico for alleged violations of state law in connection with a fire at a natural gas facility last year .
Enterprise Field Services has been fined $ 204,300 by the Petroleum Conservation Division (OCD) of the Department of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources, the agency said on Monday for failing to report spills caused by the fire.
The OCD accused Enterprise of failing to report the release of 250 barrels of condensate liquid – considered a major release by the state because it was over 25 barrels – and of falsely certifying that its documentation relating to the incident report was correct.
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Rick Rainey, vice president of communications at parent company Enterprise Products, said the company received the notice of violation on Monday. He did not specify how the operator planned to react.
“We received an enforcement notice yesterday afternoon and are beginning the process of reviewing the information,” Rainey said in a statement.
The August 2, 2020 fire occurred at Enterprise’s Oxy Sand Dunes North compressor station in Eddy County, according to the advisory, in the Permian Basin region of southeastern New Mexico, an area known for the highest concentration of mining operations in New Mexico.
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Enterprise was required by state law to report the spill caused by the fire within 24 hours, according to the announcement, but did not give notice until December 14, 2020, about four months later, in accordance with the notice.
The company was also required to file a written notification to the state within 15 days, but did so, according to the notice, only on February 4 – about six months late.
The state also alleged that the submitted documents were inaccurate despite being certified by Enterprise.
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For the alleged violations, the company received a notice of violation by the OCD along with civil penalties.
Enterprise now has the right to discuss an informal resolution with the OCD that could allow it to avoid further sanctions.
Otherwise, OCD will hold a court hearing for fines over $ 200,000.
OCD director Adrienne Sandoval said failure to report a release is a “serious violation” because it prevents the agency from properly rehabilitating the site and protecting the environment and public safety.
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“By not following established protocol, Enterprise has undermined OCD’s ability to ensure proper site remediation,” said Sandoval. “This is a key part of our regulator and why failure to report is considered a serious violation. “
Fines passed on New Mexico oil and gas companies
The OCD was given the power to impose fines in 2019 thanks to the passage by the legislature of Bill 546 which amended the state oil and gas law.
The Oil Conservation Commission also recently approved an amendment to OCD regulations that banned oil and gas spills, meaning companies would be immediately subject to fines and penalties when the incident occurred.
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Only three sanctions were handed down by the agency in the three years before the bill was passed.
The first fine imposed under the new law after it came into effect in February 2020 was imposed on Windmill Trucking in June 2020 for illegally dumping produced water onto a road in Lea County.
In December of that year, OCD fined Matador Production $ 125,000 for violating blending rules when the company combined oil from multiple wells without state approval.
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OCD colluded with San Juan Resources in January for an illegal release that saw the company fined $ 25,000 to plug a well after failing to report faulty well casing, records show.
Additionally, that month, a produced water line owned by WPX Energy broke down and sprayed the fluid on a family’s property in the Otis area south of Carlsbad.
The OCD and the New Mexico Department of the Environment have investigated and the company has settled with the owners for an undisclosed amount.
In March, OCD settled an NOV with Harvest Midstream, with the company agreeing to pay $ 92,500 for liquids released at a facility near Bloomfield in San Juan County, northwestern New Mexico.
Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-618-7631, [email protected] or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.