- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 26, 2017

DENVER (AP) - Oil field crews are shutting down and inspecting more than 3,000 Colorado oil and gas wells as a precaution after a house explosion killed two people, but investigators haven’t determined whether a well caused the blast, officials said Wednesday.

Anadarko Petroleum said it operated a 24-year-old well about 200 feet (60 meters) from the site of the April 17 explosion and fire in the town of Firestone.

Fire department investigators said the well is part of their inquiry but they haven’t determined the cause of the explosion.

The blast killed Mark Martinez and Joseph William Irwin III. Erin Martinez, who was married to Mark Martinez, was badly burned. Irwin was her brother.

The proximity of subdivisions and wells is a source of contention in Colorado, where fast-growing cities sometimes overlap with lucrative oil and gas fields.

Conflicts have generated lawsuits and attempts to overhaul state rules, and the Legislature killed a proposal this year that would have increased the minimum distance between schools and new oil and gas facilities.

Anadarko said the well near the explosion was drilled in 1993 and that the house was built recently, but the year of construction wasn’t immediately available. The company said the well was drilled by another operator, which it did not identify.

Firestone, a community of about 10,000 people 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of Denver, is in an oilfield.

Anadarko called the explosion a tragedy and expressed sympathy for the victims and their families. The company said it is cooperating with fire investigators and state regulators.

Anadarko said it will lose the equivalent of 13,000 barrels of oil a day while its 3,000 wells are turned off. A barrel is 42 gallons (151 liters).

Anadarko spokesman John Christiansen declined to disclose the estimated value of the product.

The company said the wells won’t resume operating until they are checked, and the process will take two to four weeks.

The wells being shut down and the one near the site of the explosion are all vertical, Anadarko said. Newer technology allows drilling rigs to bore vertically and then horizontally to reach oil or gas some distance away.

All the wells being shut down are about the same age as the one near the home, the company said.

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This story has been corrected to show the name of the company is Anadarko Petroleum, not Anadarko Energy.

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Follow Dan Elliott at https://twitter.com/DanElliottAP. His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/dan%20elliott.


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