Early count of flowline reports released

Eighty companies have reported oil and gas flowlines associated with 16,514 wells in response to a state requirement to provide an inventory of lines within 1,000 feet of homes.

The state Department of Natural Resources released that data Friday, providing partial results of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s work tabulating the reports that companies were required to submit by Tuesday.

The agency required the inventory from companies after an April home explosion in Firestone that killed two people. Investigators say non-odorized gas from a nearby well entered the home from an abandoned flowline that had never been disconnected from the well and was somehow severed near the home.

Flowlines are the lines connecting oil and gas wells to meters, tanks, larger gas lines or other equipment.

Companies also had to inspect all the flowlines within the 1,000-foot distance from occupied buildings and provide GPS locations for endpoints for all flowline risers within that distance.

Risers are pipes rising from the ground.

The oil and gas commission received 129 reports from operators — more than the 116 it had expected. The discrepancy likely is because some companies filed initial reports and then followed up with corrected or more complete reports, said Department of Natural Resources spokesman Todd Hartman.

Commission data shows more than 500 active operators in the state. But many don’t have wells, and thus flowlines, within 1,000 feet of a building, Hartman said. He said many are very small operators — dozens or maybe hundreds of companies in the state may own just a handful of wells apiece.

He said it appears a small number of operators haven’t yet submitted the required information.

“COGCC will be contacting those operators to ensure the work is conducted,” Hartman said in an email to reporters. “At this initial stage, the COGCC believes that industry is taking compliance with the order seriously. It will take further review, however, to develop firmer details about overall compliance.”

The 80 reports the agency has tabulated so far include all the major operators in the state.

Besides constituting an incomplete count, the 16,514-well figure released Friday comes with some other caveats.

“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. In certain cases, operators may have over-reported. For example, one large operator provided flowline information for wells within 1,500 feet of a building,” Hartman said.

Also, individual wells often may have multiple flowlines subject to the state order.

Companies also were required by Tuesday to verify that all flowlines not in use, no matter how far from buildings, are abandoned under commission rules.

All lines and risers not in use had to be marked with fluorescent paint, their operating valves had to be removed, and the lines and risers had to be capped until they can be cut off underground and sealed.


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