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Agreements with Williams and ConocoPhillips resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations on Southern Ute Reservation

Release Date: 11/02/2011
Contact Information: Contact: Joshua Rickard, 303-312-6460; Richard Mylott, 303-312-6654

(Denver, Colo. – November 2, 2011) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced agreements with two gas production companies resolving alleged violations of the Clean Air Act on the Southern Ute Reservation in Colorado’s San Juan Basin. The agreements, outlined in separate consent decrees with Williams and ConocoPhillips, will reduce emissions of air pollutants from a gas plant and compressor stations.

“These agreements will ensure that steps are taken to monitor and reduce emissions of harmful volatile organic compounds from several production facilities on the Southern Ute Reservation,” said Mike Gaydosh, director of EPA’s enforcement program in Denver. “These and other air pollutants can contribute to unhealthy air quality and impair visibility.”

Under an agreement with Houston-based ConocoPhillips, the company will pay a penalty of $198,000 to resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations at the Southern Ute Compressor Station. The station removes water and compresses natural gas for transportation through high pressure gas pipelines. The violations were discovered during a self-audit conducted by ConocoPhillips and disclosed to EPA.

ConocoPhillips will also conduct mitigation projects at the station, including the replacement of "high-bleed" pneumatics with "low-bleed" or "no-bleed" pneumatics at well sites that feed into the station. In addition, the company will conduct an infrared camera survey of the compressor station to identify leaking components and will retrofit a compressor engine with an oxidation catalyst to reduce emissions.

Measures taken as a result of the settlement will reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds by 137 tons per year, hazardous air pollutants like formaldehyde and benzene by 90 tons per year, and carbon monoxide by 33 tons per year. These measures will also conserve 5.5 million cubic feet of gas annually, enough to heat 80 homes

In a separate agreement with EPA, Williams, a natural gas production company based in Tulsa, Okla., has agreed to pay a $50,000 penalty and expand a leak detection program at the Ignacio Gas Plant on the Southern Ute Reservation. The settlement resolves alleged Clean Air Act violations at the gas plant and the Ute E compressor station. Violations were discovered through inspections conducted by EPA.

In addition to the penalty, Williams has agreed to implement an infrared camera leak-detection and repair program to identify fugitive emissions sources. The expected annual emission reductions associated with these measures include approximately 14,000 lbs of volatile organic compounds.

The Ignacio Gas Plant gathers and processes field gas for transportation. The Ute E compressor station compresses field gas for transportation through a gathering line.

The facilities affected by both agreements are located in the San Juan Basin near Durango, Colo., within the exterior boundaries of the Southern Ute Indian Reservation.

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