Oil leak from Steamboat Butte Oil Field reported Monday

    (Wind River Reservation, WY) – The Wind River Energy Commission (WREC) confirmed in a statement released to County 10 on Thursday that an oil leak from a Steamboat Butte Oil Field flowline happened on Monday, April 10.

    This leak resulted in a spill of crude oil into an unnamed tributary of the Wind River, according to Kimberly Mazza, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Public Information Officer.

    “The fluid inside the field flowlines is 98% water and 2% oil, indicating most of the volume that escaped the flowline was produced water and the minority was oil,” the WREC statement said. “The leak was not active for more than two hours and the team responded within minutes to take all necessary measures to stop the leak and mitigate the effect of the fluids that escaped the flowline during the time that the integrity was compromised.”


    The oil flow was confirmed by residents in the area and County 10 to have crossed under Highway 26 in the tributary that connects to the Wind River through private property. One rancher is reported to have moved their cattle on Thursday due to contaminated water.

    Oil socks have been placed all along the tributary to help collect the oil.

    “The team response to this incident was world class,” the WREC statement continued. “Immediate action was taken to isolate the source. Cleanup started immediately and is ongoing. The Wyoming DEQ and WREC have visited the site and are supporting the cleanup efforts.”

    Mazza confirmed, “efforts to contain the spill have been successful, and much of the product has been recovered.”


    It is unclear how much oil made it into the Wind River after the incident. Though the WREC stated: “No wildlife, no rivers, no humans, and no personal property were affected by this incident.”

    County 10 reached out to WREC for additional information on how much oil was thought to have been spilled. We have not heard back as of this writing.

    “The tribes reported the incident to all stakeholders and agencies and continue to actively clean up the affected area,” WREC stated. “The problematic flowline will be abandoned and replaced.”


    “This oil field has been in operation for almost 80 years, and many of the facilities, flowlines, and critical equipment are old and corroded,” said WREC in their statement. “The tribes and the operator will be taking proactive action to replace equipment and continue to prepare to avoid future potential incidents. None of the equipment currently in use was installed and maintained by the tribes. Furthermore, the tribes assumed the operations of the field as of 01-01-2023 with no records of service, maintenance, replacements, and historical records for the equipment and flowlines.”

    DEQ remains on-site and continues to work with the WREC, the Tribes, the state, and local and federal agencies.

    They are “planning cleanup activities, which would include identifying whether any drinking water will be affected, and if so taking the appropriate actions,” Mazza continued. “We will be working to ensure that the land and water resources that we have authority for are protected and remediated.”


    The Steamboat Butte Oil Field is located northeast of Diversion Dam.

    The WREC is a recently established program formed by the Wind River Inter-Tribal Council to oversee all operations and regulations of the Steamboat Butte Field.

    Editor’s Note: The photographs were taken on Thursday, April 13, on public roads and private property with landowner permission. The statement from WREC was released to County 10 from the Eastern Shoshone Tribe.


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