Flowline rules at center of talks at oil and gas forum

Ludlam leaving West Slope COGA for new position at CMU

Alex Zorn

David Ludlam

Officials with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission gathered with local operators and those interested in the natural gas industry for the quarterly Northwest Oil and Gas Forum on Thursday in Rifle.

Among the discussion items were new rule changes to flowlines approved by Gov. John Hickenlooper in February.

After an abandoned flowline caused a home explosion in Firestone in April 2017, COGCC officials have been working on new technical standards and registration requirements for operators across the state.

COGCC Engineering Integrity Supervisor Mark Schlagenhauf clarified the registration requirements at the forum, stating that operators need to register all off-location flowlines, crude oil transfer lines, produced water transfer systems and domestic taps.

Operators are now required to register an off-location flowline by submitting a Flowline Report, Form 44, to the director within 30 days after the flowline is placed into service, according to the COGCC flowline regulations. An off-location flowline in existence prior to May 1 of this year must be registered by Oct. 31, 2019.

The rule changes also have new valve requirements.

Schlagenhauf explained that flowlines and crude oil transfer lines constructed after May 1 must be retrofitted with isolation valves. Flowlines and crude oil transfer lines constructed before May 1 must be retrofitted with isolation valves at each of the locations identified by the COGCC, also by Oct. 31, 2019, according to the rules.

An isolation valve means a valve closed to the atmosphere that stops fluid flow and isolates a segment in a flowline or crude oil transfer line, according to the COGCC.

Pipeline Safety Program Chief Joe Molloy for the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, which oversees thousands of gas pipelines across the state, said in his presentation that if operators cannot show they are operating their pipeline safely they will get a violation.

For a more in-depth look at the rule changes visit the COGCC website at


Before the conversation on flowline rule changes began, COGCC Local Government Liaison Marc Morton announced that longtime oil and gas representative David Ludlam, and now-former executive director of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association, would be moving on to take a position at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.

“I’ve lived my whole life on the Western Slope and it was an honor to have represented the people and families of the industry,” Ludlam, whose last day was last week, told the Post Independent.

He said he was deeply touched when two individuals who may not have been on his side for every policy issue and discussion were two of the first people to reach out to him and wish him luck.

Ludlam had been with the West Slope COGA for just over eight years.

“It feels good to go from one job where I believed in the mission to another where I believe in its mission,” he said of his new opportunity. Ludlam met his wife while attending CMU.

The next Northwest Colorado Oil and Gas Forum will be in December.

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