Working in the oil and gas industry in Colorado has not been easy these past few years. Rocky commodity markets, layoffs and activists who want to put us out of business have taken their toll on morale more times than some of us would like to admit. Our shared belief that the work we do helps people live longer, happier, healthier, and more productive lives has helped us endure through tough times. Sadly, a highly unusual set of events has led us to what may be some of our most challenging days yet.
News broke last week that a home explosion in Firestone was caused by gas leaking from a nearby one-inch flowline. Unprocessed gas from the cut line bled off and saturated the soil, migrating through the French drain system and into the sump pit of the house. Two men lost their lives in the explosion, and one woman was critically injured.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the affected families. It may sound cliché to continue to offer those sentiments, but it feels like it can’t be said enough. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association fully supports the investigation by local and state authorities into what happened that led to this heartbreaking tragedy.
The safety of our families, friends and communities is our highest value and will remain so as we work to prevent tragedies like this from happening again.
COGA supports the state’s call to inspect flowlines. Many of our operators already have taken initial steps to begin re-inspection and testing. We are also proactively meeting with state regulatory officials to discuss how we can best guarantee all safeguards are met.
These steps are important to build trust with the communities where we live and work.
As an industry, we understand that our social license to operate depends on Coloradans feeling safe with oil and gas development in our state. We also understand that this incident gives people pause. But as tragic and horrific as this was, oil and gas remains a safe industry and we must reassure people of that.
We have been developing oil and gas resources in Colorado since 1860 – 16 years before statehood. We have drilled tens of thousands of wells and logged millions of employee-hours out in the field. We are a safe industry. And each day, our high-tech industry gets more innovative and smarter as we work to make our operations safer and cleaner.
The state called this incident “highly unusual” and I would add that it is incredibly rare, having never before happened in Colorado to the best of my knowledge.
Still, it happened. And we must respond. And we must get better.
We can’t be afraid to talk about our industry. We can’t let our confidence in what we’re doing wane.
We produce a product that Coloradans need and rely on every single day. We produce affordable and efficient energy that heats our homes in winter, keeps us cool in the summer, and connects us in so many amazing ways in this hyper-connected 21st century.
We do it in ways that protect the environment and, above all, with safety as our No. 1 goal.
For the foreseeable future, our industry will be under an intense media and regulatory spotlight. It’s important that we stay united, that we help each other through the political vitriol, that we maintain compassion for what has taken place, and that we double down in our efforts to do it better than anywhere else.
At COGA, we are committed to ensuring your safety and the safety of your families, the safety of your neighbors, friends, and communities, and the safety of all Coloradans. We are in this together and we commit to rebuilding our public trust, so that we can all be proud to say, “I work in oil and gas.”