A Colorado oil and gas producer has shuttered all of its natural gas lines within 250 feet of occupied buildings while an investigation continues into a fatal blast last month near an Anadarko Petroleum Corp. vertical oil and gas well in Weld County.

Great Western Oil & Gas Co. (GW) said it has temporarily shut-in 61 wells in the county following a house explosion in Firestone. The house, located about 170 feet from an Anadarko oil and gas well, was consumed in a fire on April 17 that killed two men and critically injured a woman. An 11-year-old boy was treated and released.

"Even though an oil and gas well flowline has not been determined to be the cause of the Firestone incident, in an abundance of caution, GW has inventoried all well gas lines within approximately 250-feet of occupied buildings and identified 61 gas lines within that distance," it stated. "Testing with air pressure will be completed on all 61 lines, and wells will only be brought back into service after passing the pressure test."

There had been "no conclusive evidence as to the cause of the explosion," GW noted. GW also said it has tested it flowlines every year as required by the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission (COGCC).

"Information is still being collected, and there are many unanswered questions remaining," management said. "Our flowline integrity program was recently inspected by the COGCC and GW passed all tests.

"While we are confident our operations do not present a danger to the public, we are proactively taking the necessary steps to ensure the public that our facilities continue to be safe."

GW's primary focus is the Denver-Julesburg Basin in the northwestern part of the state. "The safety of friends, family, neighbors, and employees in the areas we operate is our No. 1 priority at all times," said management.

Meanwhile, the board of commissioners of Adams County, adjacent to Weld, is encouraging "all operators" to immediately inspect vertical wells that are within 250 feet of occupied buildings to ensure they are safe and meet all industry operating requirements.

"The board of commissioners' primary responsibility is to ensure the health and safety of our residents is protected above all else," said Board Chair Eva Henry.

Last Friday, Colorado Oil & Gas Commission (COGA) President Dan Haley said "extraordinary measures" were underway "to confirm that our communities are safe, and we fully respect the investigation that must be completed. We understand some communities are rightly concerned and want to protect their citizens."

The COGCC, working with local authorities, has been investigating the incident since April 19, and is conducting environmental sampling and inspecting oil and gas wells in the vicinity. It also is reviewing the legacy well's history, identified as the Coors V6-14Ji, and evaluating whether additional steps should be taken to review activities across the region.

"The oil and gas industry and all of our operators share that desire to protect residents, as the safety of our neighbors, friends and workers is our top value," Haley said. "Until the facts are known, we would urge our elected leaders to exercise caution before making any far-reaching policy decisions...

"It is important that politics not override the investigation or interfere with the ongoing analysis," Haley said. "There are some communities that have tried banning oil and gas production in the past, and we urge politics be placed on the sideline while details are still forthcoming and the process is unfolding. As an industry, we are sticking to the facts of what we know at this time, we are working to make sure we have a clear understanding of what happened, and remain committed to the safety of our communities."