Oil Emulsion Spill in Bowman County

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) has been notified of an oil emulsion spill resulting from a pipeline leak in Bowman County.  The pipeline is a buried 3-inch in diameter flow line operated by Continental Resources. The spill was discovered Saturday, April 22, approximately five miles southwest of Marmarth and was reported that same day. Oil emulsion is a mixture of crude oil and brine produced from a well.

An estimated 18 barrels of Red River Formation crude oil and seven barrels of brine leaked from the pipeline. Crude oil from the Red River Formation has a thicker consistency than Bakken crude oil and therefore will make for quicker cleanup. An unknown amount of emulsion has flowed into and impacted about 14 miles of the Little Beaver Creek, a tributary of the Little Missouri River. Crude oil has not reached the Little Missouri River.

The section of pipeline that leaked has been isolated and is currently being excavated. Continental Resources is working with a remediation contractor that specializes in water-oil cleanup. As of April 23, 14 barrels of oil and six barrels of brine had been recovered from the site.

NDDoH personnel have been at the site since April 22 and will continue to monitor the investigation and cleanup.


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