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Colorado ranch owner claims oil spill sabotaged sale of property

02 August 2017

The owner of Bishop Ranch, a big-game hunting operation near the town of Parachute in Western Colorado, has sued the Encana energy group over a pipeline leak last year that the suit says contaminated the property and killed its planned $5 million sale. The suit claims that even if the spill is cleaned up, the stigma would affect any future sale.

Stock image
Stock image

According to the Grand Junction Sentinel, the leak from the pipeline was discovered in June 2016. Encana subsidiary Hunter Ridge Energy Services LLC told the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission that oil and gas condensate from its pipeline travelled underground, surfaced in a spring and flowed more than a mile to a stock pond.

The suit says condensate and/or produced water contaminated the springs, surface water, ground water, vegetation, land, soil and sediment from the point of the release onto the Bishop Ranch by way of a massive release of hazardous waste over an extended period of time. It claims: “Bishop Ranch is now not marketable as the permanent environmental damage and permanent stigma arising from the incident would spook any potential buyer.”

The suit says before the leak, Bishop Ranch was marketable as a pristine, world-class big game hunting ranch in Northwest Colorado known for having a large migratory trophy mule deer and elk herd.

The owner bought the 320-acre ranch in 2002, converting it into a specialist game hunting operation over the next ten years. It includes a hunting lodge, a backcountry airstrip and hangar, and a spring and well that provided potable water.

The suit says the ranch was in the final stages of negotiations to be sold for $5 million but the leak kept the sale from being completed and is asking for a jury trial, with actual and compensatory damages of $5 million.

It also names as a defendant Caerus Oil and Gas as the latter recently agreed to purchase Encana’s oil and gas assets in western Colorado’s Piceance Basin.



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