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Second company shuts oil and gas wells after fatal Colorado blast

02 May 2017

Following Anadarko Petroleum’s decision to shut more than 3,000 wells after a house explosion killed two and seriously injured a third in the town of Firestone, Colorado, Great Western Oil & Gas (GWOG) said it would shut 61 of its own wells in and around the town. The destroyed house was 60 metres from one of Anadarko’s vertical wells and one line of inquiry is that gas from the well seeped into the house.

Stock image
Stock image

The company said in a statement: “We at GWOG are deeply saddened to hear about the terrible incident near Firestone, Colorado. Our hearts go out to those affected and their families.

“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. 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, GW has inventoried all well gas lines within approximately 250-feet of occupied buildings and identified 61 gas lines within that distance. All 61 of these wells are presently being shut-in. Testing with air pressure will be completed on all 61 lines, and wells will only be brought back into service after passing the pressure test.”

On April 29, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association said the industry was taking extensive safety steps after an April 17 house explosion. State regulators said they had not found any evidence of leaks from the well but were still running tests, adding that they did not believe nearby homes were in immediate danger.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which regulates the industry, told local media air sampling after the explosion found no traces of escaped gas in the neighborhood, but examinations of soil samples were planned to determine whether the soil had any evidence of a gas leak.

The well closest to the destroyed house was drilled in 1993 and was last inspected in 2014 and received a "satisfactory" rating. The nearby houses, including the one that exploded, were built after the well was drilled.

All the other wells Anadarko is shutting down are about the same age as the one in Firestone. Like the Firestone well, they were drilled vertically instead of using later technology that allows wells to be drilled first vertically and then horizontally to reach distant oil and gas formations.

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