Flooding affects oil wells near confluence of Yellowstone, Missouri rivers

WILLISTON, N.D. – State officials are monitoring oil wells that are being affected by flooding near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers, the North Dakota Department of Health said.

The flooding is a result of ice jams downstream from the well sites. Water levels are expected to continue to rise.

The Department of Mineral Resources Oil and Gas Division began advising operators on Monday to shut down wells that at risk and move equipment and chemical containers in anticipation of possible flooding.

About 50 wells are in the area that’s being monitored, said spokeswoman Alison Ritter. Twenty-two wells cannot be accessed by road due to water on the roads, and seven wells have water on the well site, Ritter said.

The owners of the wells have been monitoring the wells from the air and by boat for the past several days.

“It sounds like the operators have responded quickly and effectively,” Ritter said.

At one site, containment booms have been deployed as a precaution.

Dennis Fewless, director of the Division of Water Quality for the Department of Health, said flooding could cause tanks to tip over and leak or cause lines to break and release oil if precautions aren’t taken.

“It does sound like they’ve got those wells shut in,” Fewless said. “Hopefully, that will prevent any leaks or releases.”

State inspectors have not been able to reach the sites by land, but are continuing to monitor the situation.

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