Anadarko gas well targeted in Firestone house explosion investigation

April 26, 2017

Colorado, oil and gas drilling

Deadly house explosion in Firestone, CO. on April 17 killed two, seriously injured one. [Photo credit: John Anderson/ABC News]


Ever wonder what could possibly go wrong with residential drilling? Now we’re finding out.

Today Anadarko Petroleum Corp., the state’s largest oil & gas producer, released a statement announcing plans to shut down all their vertical wells in northeastern Colorado, “in an abundance of caution” following a home explosion in Firestone on April 17, in which the homeowner Mark Martinez and his brother-in-law Joey Irwin were killed, and Mark’s wife Erin was seriously injured. Firestone is located in Weld County, home to over 22,000 oil & gas wells. Click here to read the full story.

Turns out Anadarko operates a vertical well about 200 feet from the Martinez’s home.

A well head as seen on April 26, in a fenced off area near a house that burned on the 6300 Block of Twilight Avenue in Firestone killing two people inside and injuring two others.  [Photo credit: Matthew Jonas/Times-Call]

In today’s statement, Anadarko acknowledged that fact saying:

While there is still much that is not yet known regarding the potential contributing factors, Anadarko operates an older vertical well that was drilled by a previous operator in 1993 and is located approximately 200 feet from where the home was recently built. As such, the company has been working cooperatively with fire officials and state regulatory agencies in their investigations since the time of the accident.

Tonight the Times-Call is reporting that investigators confirmed they are looking at a 24-year-old well operated by Anadarko as part of their probe into the house explosion, but they have not announced the origin or cause of the explosion. This is the first report linking Anadarko to the investigation of the Firestone home explosion.

Frederick-Firestone Fire Chief Theodore Poszywak said in a news release that officials do not believe any further threat exists to homes in that Firestone neighborhood, and have communicated with residents.

The Colorado Independent reported that a source told them that Anadarko personnel and trucks showed up in the neighborhood soon after the explosion, and within days the personnel arrived in unmarked vehicles wearing plain clothes. Apparently they were inspecting a feeder line from the well site that may have been severed. However Anadarko spokesman John Christiansen refused to comment on anything beyond the press release saying, “There’s a lot we don’t know.” Christiansen who usually works in Houston is in Colorado this week.

To give you an idea of the bigness of this, Anadarko operates over 3,000 vertical wells across northeastern Colorado, that produce about 13,000 barrels per day, and they are in the process of shutting them all down. According to Adam Kraich, Adams County oil & gas ombudsman, Anadarko could lose up to $1 million per day. That’s an unusually spectacular and far-reaching “abundance of caution.”

As reported in the statement: “Particular focus is being placed on areas where housing and commercial developments are occurring in close proximity to existing infrastructure.”

Where’s the COGCC?

The Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission also issued a statement today saying they have been involved with the Firestone Police Department’s investigation since last week. The Commission’s role includes “directing environmental sampling and inspecting oil and gas wells in the vicinity, including an Anadarko oil and gas operation located approximately 170 feet southeast of the property, and reviewing their history.”

Please note the discrepancy between the 170-foot distance the COGCC cited and the “about 200 feet” estimate Anadarko cited in its statement.

The COGCC also said that its role “has been to ensure the protection of public safety and the environment.”

Too little, too late, I’d say. When it comes to protecting public safety and the environment the COGCC is an epic fail.

To date a GoFundMe account has raised more than $107,000 to help the Martinez and Irwin families.

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5 Comments on “Anadarko gas well targeted in Firestone house explosion investigation”

  1. Tilda Evans Says:

    You do know that the well was there before the house.

  2. Peggy Tibbetts Says:

    Yes if you read the post Anadarko said the well was drilled in 1993.

  3. Wayne Says:

    I think if they look a little harder you will see that Noble Energy owened this well before Anadarko. And if you look at the 811 call in for utility locates for that residents you might find who hit the pollly line and never fixed it. The developers could be at fault as well as the energy companies.

  4. Peggy Tibbetts Says:

    Ultimately the flow lines are the responsibility of the operators. The line is there because of O&G development — not because of home construction. In the end what difference does it make who cut the line? The Martinez-Irwin families are devastated and an entire community is traumatized.

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