As the Pine Ridge fire along the Western Slope in Colorado was put out Thursday and the more than 100 natural gas wells in the Piceance Basin brought back online, a new fire northwest of De Beque, CO, called the Third Water Spring fire, caused Encana Corp. to shut in some of its other gas wells in the area.

Late Thursday, Encana said it still would have a small amount of production closed (1.2 MMcf/d) from the Pine Ridge wildfire, and to that it was adding 11 additional well shut-ins near the newest fire, according to an Encana spokesperson.

The additional shut-ins equated to about 7 MMcf/d. In addition, a compressor station was closed in Roan Creek, said the spokesperson, who added that the shut-ins are likely to continue through Sunday.

A Black Hills Corp. spokesperson for its exploration/production unit said it was still working Friday to bring back online all of its 98 gas wells that had been shut in due to the Pine Ridge fire. "The BLM [Bureau of Land Management] has given all operators the approval to flow all wells," she said.

News media in Grand Junction, CO, reported that the new fire, like Pine Ridge (see Daily GPI, July 5), was started by lightning and had consumed about 150 acres with zero containment on Thursday. The Pine Ridge blaze consumed nearly 14,000 acres before being contained on Wednesday.

David Ludlam, the head of the western slope branch of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA), confirmed Friday that the Pine Ridge blaze was 100% contained, and he lauded the oil/gas operators work in the design and operation of their well sites for avoiding any major problems in the gas field threatened by the fire that began a week ago. Before noon Friday, he said the new fire was "basically contained" and there were no "noteworthy threats."

"The planning and investments our companies made in technology and fire training paid off in a big way," Ludlam said.

COGA has emphasized that oil and gas operators nowadays are required to have detailed emergency response plans in place, including responding to wildfires, and each well pad is designed to avoid major damage from fires, building in multi-acre cleared areas (see Daily GPI, July 2). The Piceance wells and related gathering system equipment and pipelines are all controlled electronically with solar-powered remote telemetry, and the computers can be shut off remotely at any time, according to Ludlam.

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