About that oil spill in the Yellowstone River? Here’s something Montana’s Gov. Brian Schweitzer said last year:
“After church and at the bar, and in coffee shops people are watching what’s happening in the Gulf and they’re wondering if that could happen in Montana,” Schweitzer said.
According to Tom Richmond, administrator for the Board of Oil and Gas Conservation, the well that’s gushing oil into the Gulf is about 100 times bigger than even the largest wells in Montana. Richmond said all of Montana’s oil wells combined don’t produce as much oil per day as what’s flowing into the Gulf of Mexico daily.
“Montana has a complex geologic environment, and some of that environment actually helps reduce our risk,” Richmond said.
He said most of Montana’s oil reservoirs are low-pressure, making the possibility of a catastrophic oil well blowout unlikely. In addition, multiple safeguards are in place at every well to prevent blowouts or contain spills if they occur, Richmond said.
The most likely cause of a worst-case scenario spill would come from oil pipelines, state officials said. If a pipeline were to leak near a body of water such as the Yellowstone River, which flows through the heart of oil and gas country in eastern Montana, all bets are off.
Schweitzer said pipeline officials recently told him that safeguards were in place to ensure that leaks would be found quickly and that there is little danger to Montana’s waterways. However, Schweitzer pointed to a recent incident in Utah where a leaking pipeline spilled an estimated 33,000 gallons of crude oil into a creek that flows into the Great Salt Lake.
“How did that happen?” Schweitzer asked.
Gee, you don’t suppose they decided to save money by not doing maintenance and upgrades, do you? Because oil companies are usually so careful about that kind of thing!