Colorado oil and gas safety still under review

States employees continue to comb through data they asked for about oil and gas lines throughout Colorado.

“Processing the data from operators … is a time-consuming process and will continue to be,” Colorado Department of Natural Resources spokesman Todd Hartman said in a press release Friday. “The incoming information is voluminous.”

The information request came from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission following the April explosion of a home in Firestone that killed two people. Investigators determined that an uncapped, abandoned gas line caused the explosion.

The COGCC told oil and gas companies at the beginning of May it wanted coordinates for the endpoints for all pipes rising vertically above ground from wells within 1,000 feet of an occupied building. It gave the companies until May 30 to comply.

The commission also asked the oil and gas companies to inspect all their flowlines – regardless of how far they are from a building – to make sure all abandoned lines are properly marked and sealed.

Since the deadline, COGCC employees have processed 80 of the 129 reports it got from operators.

“That means agency staff has imported the data, reviewed it to ensure it contains the information required and that it is standardized and organized within the larger data set,” Hartman said. “Conducting that work is detailed and labor-intensive, not instantaneous.”

What they’ve processed so far provides information about 16,514 wells. That’s more than the 15,000 wells the state believes to be located within 1,000 feet of an occupied building.

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

The endpoints haven’t been put into any kind of mapping software yet, which is why the state says it can’t provide a glimpse of what the final product might look like, Hartman said.

And some smaller operators haven’t submitted their required information yet. The COGCC plans to contact those companies to make sure they comply.

“At this initial stage, the COGCC believes that industry is taking compliance with the order seriously,” Hartman said. “It will take further review, however, to develop firmer details about overall compliance.”      

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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