WPX line ruptures when slope slumps

A collapsed slope ruptured a buried, 16-inch-diameter WPX Energy pipeline that leaked gas for about a half-hour Wednesday before being shut down.

Company spokeswoman Susan Alvillar said the incident occurred around 12:30 p.m. east of Parachute and south of the Colorado River.

“The land just sort of caved in,” said Alvillar.

She said the collapse is thought to be related to moist soil this time of year, but the company is continuing to investigate.

The pipeline is a high-pressure gathering line that collects gas from area wells. Alvillar said alarms are in place to indicate when a leak occurs, allowing crews to then shut valves along such lines.

No fire or injuries resulted from the incident.

“We were just very fortunate and we’re sorry that it happened. It was really was an act of Mother Nature,” she said.

WPX put in a temporary aboveground line to allow a certain amount of gas to keep flowing and choked back production of the wells to limit pressure until the pipeline is repaired.

She said the pipeline leaked a dry gas and WPX does not believe any constituents were released at levels requiring reporting to regulatory agencies. It made some courtesy notifications, including to Kirby Wynn, Garfield County’s oil and gas liaison, and to the county Energy Advisory Board.

Only about 10 percent of the nation’s 200,000 miles of natural gas pipelines are currently regulated because current safety rules don’t apply to low-population areas. However, the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is considering regulating all such pipelines.

Alvillar said WPX follows standards for constructing and operating such lines, and will be looking at what it might learn from this week’s incident to improve pipeline integrity and safety.


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