Anadarko Petroleum Corp., the largest oil and natural gas producer in Colorado, is disconnecting all of the 1-inch natural gas flowlines that run underground from its vertical wells in northeastern Colorado in response to a fatal home explosion in Firestone last month.
All of Anadarko's northeastern Colorado wells, both newer horizontal and older vertical wells, also are undergoing a rigorous safety inspection, which consists of more than 25 steps to look at the wellhead, infrastructure and flowlines. Specifically, the company wants to ensure each well has integrity (no leaks, drips, spills); is secure and well maintained; is upgraded, if necessary; and receives a site survey to identify any changes in surroundings, such as new developments or construction nearby.
The proactive moves by the producer come two weeks after state investigators linked the explosion to a severed flowline from an oil and gas well that was sited about 170 feet from the home. Two men were killed and the wife of one man was critically injured in the blast. Gas seeped into the home through a French drain and sump pit, investigators said in their initial findings.
The National Transportation Safety Board last week joined in the investigation.
"Colorado residents must feel safe in their own homes, and I want to be clear that we are committed to understanding all that we can about this tragedy as we work with each investigating agency until causes can be determined," said Executive Vice President Brad Holly, who is in charge of U.S. onshore exploration and production.
Following the explosion, Anadarko, headquartered in The Woodlands north of Houston, shuttered 3,000 vertical wells in northeastern Colorado. About 200 employees now are inspecting wells and flowlines, "with priority being placed on wells and infrastructure that are in closer proximity to homes and communities."
"No well will be turned back on until it and all associated equipment has undergone and passed these inspections," Anadarko said.
The Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission earlier this month issued a statewide notice requiring all operators to inspect systematically their inventory of existing flowlines and verify that any existing flowline not in active use is abandoned. In addition, operators are required to document the location of all existing active flowlines located within 1,000 feet of a building unit and ensure and document the lines have integrity.
Anadarko also has "multiple teams of employees available to continue listening, engaging and working with our neighbors in northeast Colorado." Among other things, it is working with the Oak Meadows Home Owners Association in Firestone, where the destroyed home was located, to provide funding for methane detection equipment for individual homeowners and to fund the cleanup/upgrade of the neighborhood park.
As well, Anadarko is working with the Colorado Oil and Gas Association and other trade groups to share best practices, enhancing communication with the state's homebuilders and commercial developers, and focusing a team of employees to engage with various municipalities, county and state officials throughout the Denver-Julesburg Basin.