New flow line rules approved in Colorado

DENVER — New rules for oil and gas flow lines in Colorado were approved Tuesday.

The state’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission finished a nearly nine-hour long meeting to iron out the language in the new rules.

This comes after last year’s deadly house explosion in Firestone that was caused by a leaking flow line underneath the home.

A statement from Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office said the new rules include dozens of changes and improvements to flow line oversight, including:

  • Requirements for more detailed tracking, location data and record-keeping for flow lines that carry fluids away from a specific oil and gas location, such as lines that may travel from a well to a storage tank not co-located on the same well pad, or to a gathering line. The rule permits COGCC to share resulting, more specific geospatial information with local governments through a confidentiality agreement.
  • Requirements that any flow lines not in use — but not yet abandoned — are locked and marked. All such lines must continue to undergo integrity testing under the same standards as active lines until abandonment. Any risers associated with abandoned flow lines  must be cut below grade. This rule change makes permanent the post-Firestone order to eliminate above-ground risers connected to abandoned flow lines.
  • More detailed requirements for operators to demonstrate flow line integrity, including updated standards for integrity-testing lines, more testing options that align with newer technology, and the elimination of pressure-testing exemptions for low pressure lines.
  • Requirements for full operator participation in the Utility Notification Center of Colorado’s “one-call” program to ensure a centralized home for all data on flow line locations and access to that information through the established 811 “call-before-you-dig” system.