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An equipment failure led to the spill of nearly 11,000 gallons of oil and saltwater at an oil well in McKenzie County, ND, said North Dakota’s Oil and Gas Division officials.

Buckhorn Energy Services LLC reported Friday that 840 gallons of oil and 10,080 gallons of saltwater ended up released, contained and recovered at the site about 5 miles northwest of Watford City.

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A state inspector has been to the site.

As has been well documented, oil and brine spills in North Dakota are not unusual.

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In early April, over 14,000 gallons of saltwater spilled from a central tank battery about 14 miles southwest of Grassy Butte in Billings County, ND, regulators said.

Cobra Oil and Gas Corp. reported the 14,280 gallons released, contained and recovered at the site, said officials at the North Dakota Oil and Gas Division.

The cause of the incident is an equipment failure, officials said.

Saltwater, or brine, is a byproduct of oil production. It is many times saltier than sea water and can easily kill vegetation.

In March, a spill of more than 2,700 barrels of saltwater northeast of Williston, ND, reinforced the need for oil well pads to have adequate containment berms, one state agency.

Zavanna staff discovered the spill of 2,733 barrels, or 114,786 gallons, of produced water at an oil well pad about 4 miles northeast of Williston.

About 215 barrels that spilled remained on the oil well pad location and the remaining 2,518 barrels got off location, said Travis Pfaff, production manager for Zavanna.

The saltwater contaminated an estimated three-tenths of a mile of privately owned pasture land, Pfaff said.

The cause of the spill was an above-ground valve that failed, Pfaff said, adding the valve had been pressure-tested two weeks earlier.

The North Dakota Department of Health has had an inspector on site and work is still ongoing to determine the extent of the damage, said Bill Suess, spill investigation program manager.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission is considering proposed changes to state oil and gas rules, including a proposal to require oil sites to end up surrounded by 1-foot containment berms to keep more spills on location.

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