Colorado gas blast idles second company

Anadarko Petroleum last week closed thousands of wells after a deadly explosion in April.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  May 1, 2017 at 6:21 AM
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May 1 (UPI) -- All natural gas lines within 250 feet of occupied buildings in parts of Colorado are closed while investigations into a fatal blast continue, a company said.

Great Western Oil & Gas Co. follows Anadarko Petroleum with a response to a blast in late April in Firestone, Colo., that left two people dead. Anadarko said last week it closed more than 3,000 wells in response to the incident in Weld County.

Anadarko operated the well in connection to the incident, which was situated about 200 feet away from the home tied to the fatalities. The original well was drilled by a previous operator in 1993. Local authorities said the cause of the incident was under investigation, but there was no immediate threat to the community.

Great Western Oil & Gas Co. said the integrity of its gas lines in Colorado routinely passed inspections by Colorado authorities.

"While we are confident our operations do not present a danger to the public, we are proactively taking the necessary steps to ensure the public that our facilities continue to be safe," the company said in a statement. "Even though an oil and gas well flowline has not been determined to be the cause of the Firestone incident, in an abundance of caution, Great Western has inventoried all well gas lines within approximately 250 feet of occupied buildings and identified 61 gas lines within that distance."

All of those operations were closed as of Thursday.

Colorado is one of the U.S. states rich in shale oil and natural gas reserves. As energy prices improved after early 2016 declines, economic momentum emerged for Colorado late last year and the state budget office said the oil and gas sector was growing, albeit modestly. Other sectors, like agriculture, are underperforming.

Last week, the Colorado secretary of state made a decision that left a proposal to raise taxes on the oil and gas industry off the 2017 ballot. The measure would've steered the additional tax dollars toward public schools and universities, medical care and water treatment.

Tracee Bentley, the executive director of the Colorado Petroleum Council, said last week the measure was a win for the industry.

"Arbitrarily raising taxes on a highly productive industry that supports thousands of jobs and generates billions in economic output and millions in tax revenues has negative economic consequences, possibly reducing energy investment and energy activity," Bentley said in a statement.

A petition to curb Colorado oil and gas activity failed to make it to the November ballot last year.

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