Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order on Wednesday that addresses safety concerns with more than 260 orphaned wells and 360 orphaned sites in Colorado.

The executive order follows a review that the governor ordered in the aftermath of the Firestone house explosion in 2017 that killed two people and injured another. Investigators found evidence of an abandoned gas feeder line that was in proximity to the home during the construction of the neighborhood.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper

“That tragedy was a catalyst that compels us to improve the safety of Colorado’s oil and gas industry,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “We send a strong statement of unity when stakeholders throughout the industry agree to take action to remediate orphaned wells and orphaned sites and prevent the issue in the future.”

The executive order provides the following directives:

  • A reduction in the backlog of high- and medium priority orphaned wells and orphaned sites to zero.
  • Engagement of the oil and gas industry in the plugging, remediation and reclamation of these wells and sites.
  • A system of financial assurance that prevents future orphaned wells and orphaned sites  by providing sufficient funding for plugging, remediation and reclamation activities.

The public will have access to a list of known sites by Aug. 1, 2018, the governor’s office said.  That list will be updated annually by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

“This approach is designed to address the issue comprehensively – through more effective prevention of future orphaned locations and more aggressive work to remedy existing priority sites,” said Julie Murphy, director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Colorado’s oil and gas regulator.

View the executive order here.


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