- Associated Press - Friday, September 19, 2014

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Corporation Commission this week ordered its staff to shut down and seal wells belonging to an oil company officials said reaped more than $1 million from illegal drilling operations.

The state commission also turned a $100 violation into a $75,000 fine against Viva International Inc., The Wichita Eagle reported (https://bit.ly/1uijjSy ).

According to commission records, the company has been penalized for 87 different violations of state oil regulations, had its license suspended 11 times and paid two $10,000 fines for operating on a suspended license since last year.

“This represents more dockets, more violations, and more license suspensions than for any other operator during this time frame,” the order stated. “All of operator’s production during a total of 109 days this calendar year has been illegal.”

A message seeking comment was left with the company Friday.

Kansas law requires oil companies to acquire licenses and provide the commission with information on well locations and operations to help protect the state’s water resources from pollution.

The commission said the company has given incomplete and wrong records, ignored repeated requests for more information and continued to operate unlicensed wells.

The original violation in the order carried a $100 fine for not providing information. The commission’s records show the company paid the fine in August but didn’t provide the requested information, triggering a license suspension.

Investigators with the commission visited some of the company’s wells in September and confirmed they were still pumping oil even though the oil company’s license was suspended.

Commissioner Jay Emler recommended the $75,000 fine, saying the two previous $10,000 fines did not catch the company’s attention.

“If they’re simply going to ignore or flout the orders of the commission, we need to take a stronger stance,” Emler said.

Emler and another commissioner said they would not have supported a larger penalty if Viva had fewer wells and showed that it was making more of an attempt to comply with regulations.


Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, https://www.kansas.com

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