Plaintiffs Appeal Class-Action Lawsuit Against Anadarko Over Safety at Colorado Operations

April 19, 2019
Photo: Firestone Anniversary Anadarko Flowline Flag (Hood)
Anadarko flowline markers appear in the Oak Meadows subdivision where a home exploded April 17 2017. Since then state regulators enacted stricter requirements for oil companies to report to the state’s 811 Call Before You Dig system.

A class-action lawsuit against Anadarko Petroleum that alleges the company’s “Colorado operations were a ticking time bomb” has been revived.

Plaintiffs have appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, a month after a federal judge in Houston dismissed the case.

The lawsuit was filed in 2017 by shareholders after an explosion in Firestone killed two men and leveled a home. The explosion was linked to an uncapped flowline from one of Anadarko’s wells that leaked gas into the home.

The lawsuit included detailed statements from former Anadarko employees who said the company trimmed safety and remediation budgets leading up to the explosion. The well linked to the blast was acquired in a swap with Noble Energy. It was drilled in the ’90s and was a low producer.

“What was left of the budget was spent remediating wells that were either good producers or whose poor condition interfered with Anadarko’s drilling schedule. Anadarko did not consider safety threats in determining which few wells to remediate, even though many of these wells were located near houses or schools,” according to an amended complaint filed in 2017.

The lawsuit also alleged that Anadarko “only paid ‘lip service’ to safety,” relying on poorly trained contractors to carry out operations at oil and gas wells in Colorado.

A federal district court judge last month dismissed the case, saying that the plaintiffs hadn’t proven that Anadarko managers willfully deceived shareholders about the safety of the company’s operations.

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