A Bakken crude gathering system reported a pipeline leak near Glendive, Montana Saturday, January 17th, leading to oil spilling into the Yellowstone River. An oil sheen has been noticed in the Yellowstone River approximately 15 miles from the spill site and was confirmed by Bill Salvin, spokes person from Bridger Pipeline.
The exact amount of the leak has not yet been determined but currently contractors are digging trenches on both sides of the Yellowstone River to install siphon valves in order to determine whether anymore crude oil is currently flowing through the pipeline.
Location of the suspected leak underneath the Yellowstone River is 2 miles east of the I-94 mile marker 204 near Glendive, Montana. Work in progress can be seen from the I-94.
Kevin Pena, District Sanitarian for Dawson County, has been monitoring for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), in the water supply system for the City of Glendive and reports of contamination have been reported causing a run on bottled water at local markets.
Bridger Pipeline LLC headquartered in Casper, Wyoming owns and operates the Poplar System in Eastern Montana, the Four Bears Pipeline System in North Dakota, the Parshall Gathering System and the Powder River System in Wyoming.
Crude oil gathering systems in Baker, Montana build up inventory for rail or pipeline deliveries to the coastal refining hubs on the Gulf Coast, West Coast and East Coast as well as the crude storage hub in Cushing, Oklahoma.
Bridger Pipeline is owned by True Companies, which also owns and operates other crude oil gathering systems in North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana.
Bridger Pipeline said that the oil spill at Glendive occurred at about 10 AM on Saturday. The initial oil leak volume is estimated to be about 1,200 barrels or 50, 000 gallons according to the initial report.
The Bridger Pipeline is connected to Belle Fourche Pipeline, which gathers domestic crude production in Wyoming and North Dakota.
Bridger and Belle Fourche pipelines have a maximum capacity of about 100,000 barrels per day. A prolonged pipeline shutdown of Bridger may have some impact on crude delivery to Cushing, but it is noted that there are several other crude gathering systems in North Dakota and this crude oil could also be delivered by trucks and rail, in addition to pipelines.
Besides Belle Fourche and Bridger pipelines, True Companies is also involved in oil drilling, trucking, trading oil from both rail and truck, drilling equipment and farming and employs more than 1,000 people.
PHOTOS: (top) Portion of Bridger pipeline with siphon valve installed. (bottom) Frozen Yellowstone River shoreline at the oil spill site.