DENVER – Colorado’s oil and gas regulators will allow at least one operator an extra month to plug and abandon thousands of return lines in an ongoing audit of all of the state’s oil and gas wells and flowlines.
Kerr-McGee, which is a subsidiary of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, requested in a June 15 letter to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission that the deadline for the second phase of the inspection process—which required operators to test all their flowlines within 1,000 feet of a building for integrity—be extended to July 31.
The company said in addition to meeting the deadlines set forth by Gov. John Hickenlooper and COGCC, that it has “undertaken additional and significant voluntary actions to help residents feel safe in their homes.”
COGCC granted the request and said it was supportive of the extra effort.
“Anadarko is going above and beyond initial requirements and its request comports with updated guidance,” COGCC spokesman Todd Hartman said Friday.
The COGCC updated its notice to operators about the inspection efforts on June 7, and included a clause that said “operators may opt to reconfigure systems to remove existing return or supply gas lines and replace them with on-location wellhead gas or compressed air.”
But it said that the operators who wished to do so had to submit a written request to COGCC on or before June 15—a deadline Kerr-McGee and Anadarko met. COGCC would grant the extensions on a “case-by-case basis,” it said.
Kerr-McGee and Anadarko said they have dedicated at least 370 employees and contractors to the inspection and replacement process.
“As the largest operator in this region, we take our responsibility very seriously,” the letter to COGCC said.
“We continue to make good progress on the portion of Phase 2 requiring integrity testing of all flowlines between a wellhead and production facility within 1,000 feet of a building unit,” the company added.
It said that at this point, “the majority” of the company’s efforts were “focused on the safe and thorough abandonment of approximately 2,00 inactive steel flowlines,” which the company said was “about 15 percent complete” as of June 15.
Operators had been required to report back to the state on the locations of every existing flowline not being actively used and to map the location of active flowlines.
On June 2, COGCC said it had received 129 reports—more than the 116 COGCC had expected.
COGCC also said that it was possible some of the operators have over-reported, noting that at least one large operator gave information for each well and flowline within 1,500 feet of buildings—beyond the 1,000-foot limit.
Hartman said on June 2 that COGCC believed the oil and gas industry was taking compliance with the state’s orders seriously.
Anadarko temporarily shut in 3,000 of its vertical wells and flowlines after an April 17 explosion in Firestone killed two people and severely injured another. A leaking abandoned flowline was found to have caused the explosion after methane gas built up in the home’s basement.
Kerr-McGee was the operator of an oil tank battery that exploded during a construction incident in Mead weeks later, killing one and injuring three others.