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Oil company closes thousands of wells in Colorado after fatal house explosion

27 April 2017

Anadarko Petroleum is shutting all its vertical wells across northeast Colorado following a home explosion in the town of Firestone earlier this month that killed two people and badly injured another. The more than 3,000 wells will remain shut until field staff can conduct inspections and tests of equipment, pipes and facilities across the area, the company said on April 26.

Stock image
Stock image

The blast happened on April 17 in a house 50 metres from where Anadarko operates a 24-year-old vertical well. Local fire authorities said the well was one aspect of the investigation and the cause of the fire had not yet been determined, although they said they had told residents there was no threat to other homes nearby.

"Our teams will remain actively engaged with residents in the Firestone community," Brad Holly, Anadarko’s senior vice president for US onshore exploration and production, said in the company’s statement. "Colorado residents must feel safe in their own homes, and I want to be clear that we are committed to understanding all that we can about this tragedy as we work with each investigating agency until causes can be determined."

The shut wells produce the equivalent of about 13,000 barrels (2 million litres) of oil a day, Anadarko said.

Firestone, a community of about 10,000 people 48 kilometres north of Denver, is in an oilfield. The overlap between oil and gas fields and expanding urban areas has been a source of contention in Colorado.

Conflicts have generated lawsuits and attempts to overhaul state rules, and the Colorado legislature killed a proposal this year that would have increased the minimum distance between schools and new oil and gas facilities.

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