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Colorado Assessing E&P Flowline Data Following April Explosion

Only a "handful" of smaller operators had yet to submit requested data regarding flowlines to the state following a mandate by the governor last month, but the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) was not ready to conclude that the industry is fully complying following a fatal explosion in April of an abandoned flowline from a well sited about 170 feet from a home.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper in May mandated a review of oil and natural gas operations after a preliminary investigation determined that an abandoned and severed unrefined natural gas flowline was linked to an explosion in Weld County that killed two men and seriously injured a woman.

A spokesperson for the state said it was "a time-consuming process” and incoming information had been "voluminous." Under a notice to operators issued by Hickenlooper in early May, operators are required to provide global positioning system locations for endpoints of all flowline risers within 1,000 feet of an occupied building.

The governor also mandated that operators verify that any existing flowlines not in use are abandoned. Any existing flowline or pipeline riser not in use must be clearly marked using fluorescent paint and all operating valves removed and capped until they can be cut-off below grade and sealed.

The reports processed as of Friday included flowlines associated with 16,514 wells.

"It will take additional time for COGCC to cross-reference all the locations submitted to ensure all wells within 1,000 feet of a building are part of this group," the spokesperson said.

In some cases, operators may have over-reported, he said, citing an example of a large operator that provided flowline information for wells within 1,500 feet of a building.

As of Friday, COGCC had received 129 reporters from operators, exceeding the 116 expected based on the agency's analysis. Some operators may have sent iterative reports, or corrected reports.

COGCC had processed 80 reports, which meant it had imported data and reviewed it to ensure it was standardized and organized. Reports by all of the state’s largest operators had been processed.

"It appears there may be a small number of operators that have yet to submit the required information, and COGCC will be contacting those operators to ensure the work is conducted,” the spokesperson said.

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