Company agrees to pay hefty fine in large oil spill case

September 24, 2021 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The company responsible for the largest oil field spill in North Dakota has pleaded guilty to criminal charges after reaching an agreement with the federal government to pay $15 million in fines.

Summit Midstream Partners entered the pleas in federal court Wednesday. Summit was charged for negligently discharging oil and for failing to immediately report the spill, which occurred north of Williston over a period of five months in 2014 and 2015.

A pipeline leaked 700,000 barrels, or 29 million gallons, of produced water, which is highly saturated saltwater that comes up in wells along with oil and gas. Produced water can contain oil, the Bismarck Tribune reported.


Some of the wastewater reached Blacktail Creek, which eventually flows into the Missouri River.

The U.S. Department of Justice said the $15 million will go toward the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which can be used to clean up oil spills.

Summit also has agreed to take steps to prevent future spills by implementing better training, installation, operating and testing requirements. The company said it has spent $75 million on those improvements and spill cleanup.

Summit has also reached a separate agreement with the federal and state government in a civil case related to the spill. It’s expected to pay $20 million to resolve the matter. That amount would be split evenly between the federal and state governments.

A federal judge must sign off on the civil settlement.