EPA penalizes Hilcorp Alaska $180,580 for Clean Air Act violations
Company allowed methane, VOC leaks to go undetected and unrepaired
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that Hilcorp Alaska has paid a $180,580 penalty for Clean Air Act violations at 35 of its Prudhoe Bay, Milne Point, and Kenai Peninsula facilities in Alaska.
EPA found Hilcorp failed to make timely repairs when leaks of methane and volatile organic compounds were found, failed to conduct leak inspection at a new facility, and failed to accurately report on leak inspection and repair activities from 2018 through 2020.
“The public needs to be able to depend on a major facility owner like Hilcorp obeying the rules for providing accurate and honest reporting of maintenance activities,“ said Ed Kowalski, director of EPA Region 10’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division. ”Requirements to conduct emissions monitoring and timely repair or replacement of the sources should be at the top of this company’s priority list.”
The oil and natural gas industry is the largest industrial source of methane and smog-forming volatile organic compounds. EPA requires the oil and gas industry to reduce fugitive emissions of methane and VOCs through regular inspections for leaks and prompt repair when leaks are discovered. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas.
Some examples of the violations EPA found:
- In 2018 Hilcorp submitted reports indicating its inspector conducted on-site inspections at two different facilities at the same time in its Milne Point Unit and again at its Kenai Gas Field.
- In its 2019 Annual Compliance Report, the company noted that it failed to conduct required fugitive emissions monitoring at the Beaver Creek Unit facility until approximately 136 days after starting production. The Clean Air Act requires start-up monitoring to be completed within 60 days.
- In Prudhoe Bay, the company took several months to conduct required repairs to multiple sources of fugitive emissions.
- In its 2020 Annual Compliance Report Hilcorp stated that it failed to repair or replace 13 sources of fugitive emissions during scheduled shutdowns at its Greater Prudhoe Bay oil field.
The complete list of violations can be found in the consent agreement and final order filed by EPA on February 7, 2022.
Facilities complying with the Clean Air Act requirements for oil and gas wells will reduce emissions of methane and volatile organic compounds. EPA recently proposed new, tighter restrictions on crude oil and natural gas facilities.