New Oil and Gas Flowline Rules

On Feb. 13, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) approved a number of new regulations addressing the regulation of flowlines for oil and gas development. 

Following the deadly explosion that resulted from a severed oil and gas flowline in Firestone in 2017, the COGCC conducted a review of its oversight regulations for operators and held three separate multiday hearings over the past three months and unanimously approved a number of new requirements, including: 

  • Requirements for more detailed tracking, location data and record-keeping for flowlines 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 wellpad, 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 flowlines 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 flowlines must be cut below grade. This rule change makes permanent the post-Firestone order to eliminate above-ground risers connected to abandoned flowlines. 
  • More detailed requirements for operators to demonstrate flowline 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 flowline locations and access to that information through the established 8-1-1 “call-before-you-dig” system. 

The final draft of the proposed rules, as well as the COGCC’s basis and purpose for the rules, can be found on the COGCC website.