Created: Tue, 17 Jun 2014 10:43:00 MST
Updated: Wed, 18 Jun 2014 07:44:44 MST
SILT, Colo - The Associated Press reports four out of every ten "high-risk" drill sites in America aren't inspected by federal officials at the time of drilling, and the percentage is even higher in Colorado.
It's the Bureau of Land Management's job to make sure all oil and gas operations on federal lands are working at a safe standard, but a recent AP report shows more than 160 wells labeled "high-priority" near New Castle didn’t have an inspector present during the drilling process.
The Colorado River Valley BLM Field Office oversees thousands of wells, but said they only have six inspectors in total. A drilling inspection could take all day, and officials said it isn't feasible at this time to be at every well during drilling due to lack of manpower.
“It is difficult to keep inspectors because private industry pays more,” said public affairs officer David Boyd. “We just don't have the staff, and sometimes it could also be a funding issue.”
Boyd added their office does conduct checks and inspections at every drilling pad, but each pad could contain up to 40 wells and they don’t inspect every one.
The Western Slope Oil and Gas Association weighed in on the situation. Executive Director David Ludlam said he would like there to be more inspections, but he doesn't believe any of their association member’s drilling operations to be unsafe.
“All of our wells are inspected daily or weekly by the operators themselves because they have an interest in keeping those wells healthy and functional and producing revenue for the company and community,” said Ludlam.
The BLM has announced they'll be working on ways to better incentivize well inspectors to retain more of them.