COGCC 7-point plan to modify rules in aftermath of Firestone explosion public hearings in December 2017

Photo credit Croft Production Systems.

From The Denver Business Journal (Cathy Proctor):

Filling abandoned pipelines with yellow-colored cement, ensuring small flow lines connected to wells are secure, and clarifying which agency has jurisdiction over oil and gas pipelines are the goals of new rules the state is considering in the wake of the deadly Firestone home explosion on April 17.

The new rules— slated for public hearings in December — is part of the seven-point plan rolled out by Gov. John Hickenlooper on Aug. 22…

[Matt] Lepore said the effort has several goals — updating existing regulations as well as adding new requirements. Several of the goals focus on the circumstances that surrounded the explosion that killed two men and seriously injured a woman…

Part of the rulemaking is to ensure there’s no confusion about active and abandoned pipelines in the future…

Lepore said the proposed rules will ensure all pipelines are tested to find leaks — including the smallest lines that previously had been exempted from routine, annual testing.

The pipeline at the center of the investigation into the explosion was a 1-inch flow line.

Lepore said the state also will look at how pipelines are abandoned, with the initial thought that it’s OK to leave them in the ground, as long as they’re severed from the well, the ends cut off below the ground, and the pipeline filled with a “cement slurry type material.”

Lepore said the rule is likely to call for that cement to be yellow colored, the same color the 811-Call Before You Dig program uses to mark oil and gas lines…

Lepore said he hopes to ensure oil and gas companies are not only part of the state’s 811-Call Before You Dig program, but that they’re Tier 1 members. Tier 1 members work more closely with the 811 organization than Tier 2 members…

One area of concern is the industry’s use of pipelines to transport oil from wells in the field to processing facilities.

Local governments and neighborhoods have clamored for energy companies to invest in pipelines to transport the oil or water pumped from the well to a larger processing facility. It’s a way to reduce dust and traffic from tanker trucks that traditionally have pulled the mix from storage tanks at the well site.

But there’s a question over who has jurisdiction over those pipelines — the COGCC, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission or the federal government, Lepore said.

Similar questions surround the pipelines used to carry produced water from the well site — water that flows up through the well and often is mixed with oil and natural gas, he said.

The COGCC also is asking other states how they handle the issue, he said.

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