As planned, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) is proposing to beef up oversight of oil and gas flowlines following a tragic incident in Firestone two years ago.

The draft would include oversight of registration, integrity management and abandoning off-location flowlines and crude transfer lines. The proposal would also add repair/construction and leak detection rules. Operators would be required to create flowline map layers available to the public.

The proposed changes would amend rules adopted in February 2018. COGCC has scheduled a rulemaking hearing Nov. 20-21. Colorado Senate Bill (SB) 19-181, signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis in April, directed COGCC to “allow the public disclosure of flowline information and evaluate and determine when a deactivated flowline must be inspected before being reactivated.”

The February 2018 rules and the newly proposed flowline rules are the culmination of a multi-year overhaul sparked by the 2017 deadly flowline explosion in Firestone. Fatal incidents in the heart of Colorado’s oil and gas production zones, the most recent of which took place in August, are likely to keep regulatory overhaul front and center for the state.

Colorado Oil and Gas Association CEO Dan Haley challenged the timing of the rollout, noting COGCC’s 2018 flowline regulations “won’t be fully implemented until Oct. 31, just three weeks before a hearing is scheduled to accept additional changes to these new requirements. Ideally, it would be better to let the 2018 rules take effect and then gauge how they are working before making additional changes.”

The industry group took issue with “the safety risks associated with making flowline location data and mapping widely available, which could encourage an expansion of the illegal trespassing and vandalism we’ve seen along major pipelines, but as importantly, broad access to inaccurate maps could encourage people to skip the ‘call before you dig’ 811 system, and put themselves at serious risk.”