Oil and gas lines tested, plugged

“We aren’t tak­ing any chances,” says Anadarko Pe­tro­leum spokesman.

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By Aldo Svaldi

Anadarko Pe­tro­leum said late Fri­day that it has tested more than 4,000 ac­tive oil and gas lines and plugged an­other 2,400 in­ac­tive ones per a state or­der is­sued after a fa­tal home ex­plo­sion in Fire­stone in April.

“We are look­ing at ev­ery­thing,” said John Chris­tiansen, a spokesman for the Hous­ton-area com­pany. “We are go­ing over­board. We aren’t tak­ing any chances.”

Gas from an aban­doned flow­line still at­tached to an Anadarko well in Fire­stone’s Oak Mead­ows neigh­bor­hood ig­nited April 17 in the base­ment of 6312 Twi­light Ave., killing Mark Martinez and Joey Ir­win as they worked on a wa­ter heater.

Right after the ex­plo­sion, Anadarko shut down 3,000 ver­ti­cal wells sim­i­lar to the one im­pli­cated in the blast, and 10 weeks later has brought only 30 of them back into pro­duc­tion.

The com­pany has pledged to per­ma­nently shut-in a half dozen wells lo­cated near the Oak Mead­ows neigh­bor­hood, which Cen­tury Com­mu­ni­ties built on top of an old oil and gas field criss­crossed with nu­mer­ous flow­lines.

The in­ac­tive lines plugged un­der the state or­der were two or three inches in di­am­e­ter. As an added pre­cau­tion, the com­pany capped an­other 3,600 one-inch lines no longer in use.

Chris­tiansen said the bulk of the aban­doned lines were lo­cated on tank farms, or the fa­cil­i­ties that store and process oil and gas com­ing from sur­round­ing wells. In Weld County, Anadarko has switched to a tankless sys­tem where oil and gas is trans­ported on larger pipe­lines and han­dled at a larger, cen­tral­ized fa­cil­ity.

Also per the state or­der, the com­pany said it has pres­sure tested more than 4,000 ac­tive lines and that 99.6 per­cent had passed. The 16 that failed are un­der­go­ing re­pairs and will be retested.

“There are no hy­dro­car­bons flow­ing through them,” Chris­tiansen said.

Anadarko, after look­ing at thou­sands of wells, hasn’t found a setup or sit­u­a­tion that

matches the one seen at the Fire­stone well linked to the home ex­plo­sion, Chris­tiansen said.

Fol­low­ing the blast, the Colorado Oil and Gas Con­ser­va­tion Com­mis­sion is­sued an or­der that gave oil and gas op­er­a­tors un­til May 31 to re­port the lo­ca­tion of all flow­lines within 1,000 feet of ex­ist­ing struc­tures.

The sec­ond part of the or­der — with a June 30 dead­line — re­quired com­pa­nies to pres­sure test ac­tive lines to en­sure their in­tegrity and to aban­don any in­ac­tive lines per state rules put in place in 2001.

Those rules re­quire com­pa­nies to cut the ris­ers, or the por­tion of the pipe stick­ing out above ground, at least three feet be­low ground. The lines must be plugged and capped on both ends.

Op­er­a­tors re­ported more than 128,000 flow­lines to the state per the or­der, al­though some of those lines were lo­cated be­yond the 1,000-foot re­quire­ment. Of those, about 113,000 were ac­tive, ac­cord­ing to re­ports filed with the COGCC.

Anadarko has a much higher ra­tio of in­ac­tive ver­sus ac­tive lines, which could in­di­cate it is be­ing much more ag­gres­sive in aban­don­ing lines or faces much dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stances on the ground than other pro­duc­ers in the state.

Anadarko has de­ployed more than 300 work­ers test­ing or plug­ging lines, Chris­tiansen said. While most of the work is done, Anadarko asked for an­other month to com­ply, which the state granted.

Todd Hart­man, a spokesman for the Colorado Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, said that as of Fri­day af­ter­noon, seven pro­duc­ers had re­quested “vari­ances” from the state. Most of those were for an­other month or two to com­ply.

“One op­er­a­tor, Will­source, has sought an ex­ten­sion due to high creek runoff that is lim­it­ing ac­cess to three wells with flow­lines,” Hart­man said.

Be­sides Will­source En­ter­prise and Anadarko, other op­er­a­tors that have asked for more flex­i­bil­ity, ei­ther in time or terms, in­clude BP Amer­ica, Cono­coPhillips, Noble En­ergy, PDC En­ergy and Pi­o­neer Nat­u­ral Re­sources, Hart­man said.

Test re­sults from ac­tive lines will be avail­able to the pub­lic in com­ing days as the in­for­ma­tion is up­loaded, he said.

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