Leak in line from gas well blamed in fatal Colorado blast

Andrew Cummings
May 5, 2017

Ted Poszywak, left, chief of the Frederick-Firestone fire department, and public information officer Summer Campos, right, take questions from members of the media during a news conference, while standing next to a picture of the location where an unrefined gas leak explosion killed two people inside their home in Firestone, Colo., Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Investigators blame the explosion on gas that leaked from an old, unused pipeline that was still connected to a nearby well.

Hickenlooper says that inspections of the flowlines within 1,000 feet of occupied buildings must occur within 30 days and be tested for integrity in 60 days.

The house was within 200 feet of a well, but investigators haven't yet said whether the well was involved.

The gas entered the basement at 6312 Twilight Ave. through a French drain and sump pit before it found an ignition source.

Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE:APC) has insider ownership of 0.53% and institutional ownership of 88.16%.

Over a number years there has been considerable tension between gas patch residents and drillers over the proximity of oil and gas infrastructure to homes and schools.

Investigators do not know how or when the small pipe was cut.

The Colorado Statesman quoted him as saying: "The COGCC inspects about 40,000 wells a year", Lepore said, "I think 49,000 last year... but there is no comprehensive map of [well] flow lines".

Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Director Matt Lepore said the line was cleanly cut, which he said could mean it was severed by construction equipment while the neighborhood was being built.

Now that the cause of the fire has been determined, the Firestone Police Department will conduct a death investigation and send its recommendations to the local district attorney's office.

Irwin and Mark Martinez were in the basement when the explosion leveled the home and briefly set fire to an adjacent house. Erin Martinez was badly burned. Irwin was her brother.

The explosion killed two people and injured one.

Natural gas is odorless when it comes out of the ground, and energy companies add a smell during refining so leaks will be noticeable. Since the gas leaking into the Firestone home had not been refined, it had no odor, and no one in the house would have detected it, Chief Poszywak said.

The complaint alleges that defendants during the Class Period made false and misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that: (1) Anadarko's maintenance and safety protocols in respect to certain of its vertical wells were inadequate; (2) due to the foregoing shortcomings, these wells were at an increased risk of explosion; and (3) as a result, Anadarko's public statements were materially false and misleading at all relevant times. "We will continue to take all necessary and appropriate steps in that regard, and will continue to cooperate fully with all ongoing investigations to ensure we fully understand the basis for the fire district's conclusions and that no stone is left unturned prior to any final determinations". "In the weeks and months that follow, we will endeavor to enhance flowline and pipeline procedures and remain committed to improving Colorado oil and gas production".

The state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission regulates the distance between new wells and existing structures, but local governments set the distance between new homes and existing wells. In Firestone, the requirement is 150 feet. John Hickenlooper called for a review of all oil and gas operations, including inspections of any lines within 1,000 feet of an occupied building.

Ensure all abandoned lines are cut below the surface and sealed.

The well was shut down for all of 2016 but resumed production in January, state records show.

Shares of Anadarko Petroleum closed the previous trading session at 51.95 down -4.34 -7.71% with 22,118,227 shares trading hands.

The well was last inspected in 2014 and received a "satisfactory" rating.

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