Energy company unhooks gas lines after fatal Colorado blast

Posted at 10:40 PM, May 16, 2017

DENVER (AP) — The company that owns a gas well linked to a fatal home explosion in Colorado said Tuesday it will permanently disconnect other pipelines in the area like the one blamed in the explosion.

Anadarko Petroleum, which owns the well, did not say how many pipelines would be disconnected. But the company has said it operates more than 3,000 similar wells in northeastern Colorado.

Fire investigators have said unrefined, odorless natural gas from a severed 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) pipeline seeped into a home in the town of Firestone, causing the April 17 explosion that killed two people. A third was badly burned.

The pipeline was thought to be out of service, but investigators said it was still connected to a well near the home. They have not determined why it was connected.

Federal and state authorities have joined local police and fire officials in the investigation.

The pipeline cited in the explosion was one of two that often connect wells to storage tanks. A 2-inch (5-centimeter) line carries oil or gas to the tank. The second, smaller line carries gas from the well to power a separator, a device that removes water that comes out of the well with the petroleum before the petroleum goes into the tank.

Anadarko said its crews will permanently disconnect the smaller lines. Company spokesman John Christiansen said the separators will be powered by compressed air or electricity instead of gas.

The action was voluntary. State regulators said they did not order it.

Fire investigators announced the cause of the explosion two weeks ago, and the state immediately ordered energy companies to inspect all pipelines between wells and storage tanks that run within 1,000 feet (300 meters) of occupied buildings.

Results of those inspections had not been made public by Tuesday.

Separately, Anadarko and other companies said they would temporarily shut down and inspect more than 3,000 similar wells in northeastern Colorado.