Crews prepare to ‘kill’ spewing gas well

SILT — Response crews made preparations Wednesday in hopes of being able to act today to “kill” a well that’s spewing natural gas southwest of Silt.

Jon Black, the local operations manager with Antero Resources, said gas was venting from Antero’s out-of-control well Wednesday with less intensity compared to when the incident began a day earlier.

Seven area homes had been put on notice Tuesday that they might have to evacuate, but no evacuations had been necessary as of Wednesday. Testing of gas levels was continuing near the well.

Antero offered to put up nearby residents in hotels, but officials said they weren’t aware of anyone who left their homes.

No injuries have occurred in connection with the incident. However, the Western Colorado Congress citizens group said in a news release that the blowout shows the need for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to increase the 150-foot minimum setback between houses and wells. The agency declined to do that in the rules rewrite it is completing this year, but plans to revisit the issue early next year.

Although homes aren’t that close to the Antero well, the citizens group is concerned about the health dangers to area residents from this week’s release of gas and associated chemicals.

Antero says the incident’s environmental impacts should be minimal because gas floats up into the atmosphere. Burning Mountains Fire Protection District Chief Brit McLin said a light breeze also was helping disperse the gas Wednesday.

Tricia Beaver, hearings manager for the oil and gas commission, said there was no immediate indication of an air-quality concern related to the incident.

No fire has occurred in connection with the blowout, and officials believe the chance of an explosion is low, in part because of the amount of water that is mixed in with the escaping gas.

Crews were working Wednesday on placing equipment, conducting training and addressing logistics for sealing the well. The plan is to install surface lines and equipment to allow drilling mud to be pumped down the well.

The cause of the blowout has yet to be determined. Beaver said Antero will be expected to file a written report once the cause is known.

She said the incident was an accident and wouldn’t likely lead to enforcement action unless it resulted in something such as harm to surface waters.


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