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.

(Grace Hood/CPR News)

More than a year after the deadly home explosion in Firestone, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order Wednesday to hasten the clean-up of orphaned oil and gas wells. 

“I can’t overstate how important it is that we achieve these goals,” Hickenlooper said. “This executive order is one example of trying to do everything we can to preserve our quality of life.”

The immediate focus for the state will be 260 orphan wells left behind by operators that are no longer in business.  A list of the highest priority wells will be released Aug.1.

The state has an estimated $5 million budgeted to pay for orphan well clean-up, but it falls short of the total needed. Each clean-up costs an average of $80,000 per well. Colorado Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Bob Randall said the state has already hired one person to focus on the issue, and expects to bring on three more workers to tackle the problem.

The state will also work with oil and gas operators to review state financial requirements for those operators. Right now about $6,000 is left when an oil and gas operator abandons a well, according to one industry representative. Gov. Hickenlooper said he thinks financial assurance measures could improve among oil and gas operators