Anadarko promises extra protection on older oil, gas wells
May 17, 2017
Home methane detection devices can be purchased on the Internet at a range of prices.
Anadarko Petroleum has 200 people on the ground working to inspect wells near occupied structures, per a state order in the wake of a home explosion this past month in Firestone.
But the company states it is going further to protect residents near its older oil and gas wells by cutting and engineering around existing gas lines similar to the one implicated in the explosion. The company also is providing funding for homeowners in the Oak Meadows subdivision in Firestone to purchase methane detection devices.
"For us this is a step that I think, hopefully, will give people a little more confidence in our operations and give them a little peace of mind," said John Christiansen, company spokesman. "It's reducing risk in one area where we have that ability to do it."
The home exploded April 17 when an abandoned gas return line leaked methane into the French drains of the home, filling the basement with gas. The gas exploded, killing two men inside working on a water heater, and severely injuring a woman. Two gas flowlines, which had been abandoned, lead from the well 178 feet away. But one line, a 1-inch return line, which had connected the wellhead to a separator prior to being abandoned, was improperly capped at the wellhead, and severed within 10 feet of the home's foundation, investigators found.
The well, drilled in 1993, was turned off for all of 2016. Anadarko, which acquired the well in a 2014 asset swap with Noble Energy, turned the well back on in January. The home was built in 2015.
Immediately following the explosion, Anadarko shut in 3,000 older vertical wells for inspections and repair, but the state added another caveat to all oil and gas operators in the state: inspect and document all flow lines from wells, producing or not, that lie within 1,000 feet of an occupied structure and fix any needed repairs. They have until the end June to do the work.
Anadarko is working to permanently disconnect all underground 1-inch low-pressure supply or "return" lines from every vertical well in its DJ Basin asset base. That's essentially all of those 3,000 wells that were shut in after the explosion.
Those lines in older, vertical wells extend to what is called a separator, which separates oil and gas from water from the wellhead. The 1-inch line in most cases fueled the separator, Christiansen said. In its newer, horizontal wells, technology has improved equipment to the point that such flowlines are obsolete.
"We can either use compressed air or electricity to do the same thing," he said. "That's how we do it on all new horizontal wells, so we're going to go back and eliminate that 1-inch low-pressure line. … Most of the new horizontal wells and tankless facilities we're now using in the DJ Basin, we're able to already use electricity or compressed air to power the separators."
The company also reported it was working to provide the homeowners in the Oak Meadows subdivision with funding to purchase methane detection devices. Naturally occurring methane is not treated with odorant and cannot be detected without such a device.
"We've been working with the homeowners association for the last couple of weeks and this was something the HOA raised that would possibly help alleviate concerns in the community," Christiansen said.