Acceptance of CDP may be risky business- Guest Opinion – Broomfield Enterprise 7/22/18

By Patrick Talbot

Extraction Oil & Gas, Inc., proposes to drill 84 horizontal fracking wells in close proximity to densely populated residential communities, boulevards, parks, and our planned future Broomfield potable water source. Extraction was required to submit a Risk Management Plan as part of their Comprehensive Drilling Plan (CDP) to obtain permits to drill in Broomfield.

The current CDP identifies 14 risks for the 84 wells over the lifetime of the project. Twelve are cited as “unlikely” and two are deemed “rare.” “Unlikely” is defined as having a 3 percent- to-10 percent probability of occurring, and “rare” is defined as having a less than 2 percent chance of occurring.

These risks are far too high! Given that the risks are independent, in that occurrence of one does not increase or decrease the likelihood of occurrence of another, there is a 57 percent chance that one or more catastrophes will occur in Broomfield.

To better understand the validity of this risk data, look specifically at just one of the twelve catastrophic risks — Fire and Explosion. The COGCC data shows 116 incidents of fire and explosion from 2006 through 2015 when the average number of active wells was 42,500 in Colorado.

This is a catastrophe rate of .27 percent per well over ten years which can be extrapolated[P=1-(1.0027)3 ] to approximately .81 percent per well over 30 years. Based on this COGCC data, the cumulative risk for the 84 proposed wells (For 84 wells over 30 years, P = 1 – ( 1 – .0081)84) would be 49.5 percent over a 30-year period.

This actual hazard rate is more than seven times higher than the assumed Extraction rate of an average 6.5 percent for this particular risk over 30 years. If other “unlikely” risks for catastrophic events are also underestimated by a factor of seven, catastrophic incidents in Broomfield will become a regular occurrence.

When oil and gas development occurs away from populated communities, the resultant injuries and damage to property are not as significant. However, due to more recent technological advances, Extraction is now capable of drilling 19 wells on a single pad in the midst of residential communities. If/when one of these catastrophic incidents occurs until on the proposed Livingston site, the resultant possibility for injury and property damage will be exceedingly greater.

The City of Broomfield must deny approval of the CDP and not issue permits until Extraction can show via in-depth analysis and successful real world implementation that they have mitigated these risks to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the residents of Broomfield.

Patrick Talbot is a resident of Broomfield. 

This Guest Opinion is published in the 7/22/18 Broomfield Enterprise print edition but is not yet published online with a direct link.  We will post the direct link when available but the indirect link to the e-edition can be found here with the Guest Opinion on pages 6 and 31.