An oil tank battery exploded and caught fire near northern Colorado town of Mead last Thursday while undergoing routine maintenance by a contract crew. Mead is a small town roughly 40 miles north of Denver. An oil tank battery is a group of tanks that collect and hold crude oil produced from wells. The explosion and resulting fire killed one contract worker and three other workers suffered significant burns.
The worker killed in the blast was a resident of Greeley, CO, but authorities have no other information available at this time. The current conditions of the other three workers is also unknown. The name of the company that the crew worked for has not been released.
The oil tank battery that went up in flames is owned and operated by Anadarko Petroleum Co. based out of The Woodlands, TX. The battery was reportedly getting upgraded for future service, and a statement released by the company confirms that, “The facility was not in operation at the time of the incident.”
The cause of the explosion and fire is still unknown. Local and state authorities, along with investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB), are scouring the site to find the cause of the fatal fire.
As a result of the incident, Anadarko must file an official report to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), who is included amongst the state officials performing the investigation. The COGCC has offered its oil and gas operations expertise to OSHA during the investigation.
The local authorities, led by the Mountain View Fire Protection District, state that it might take several weeks to complete the investigation. They have also checked local residential areas for any residual gas, but the tests have turned up negative so far.
The fire is a second black eye for Anadarko in the state of Colorado as it comes slightly a month after investigators found that an abandoned gas line connected to an Anadarko well caused a home to explode in Firestone, Colorado. Firestone is four miles away from Mead, and the explosion there killed two people and injured one other.
As a result of the April home explosion, Anadarko has shut down 3,000 vertical wells in the region. On closing the wells, Anadarko Chairman, President, and CEO, Al Walker insisted in an official statement that, “We hope that doing so also provided some additional reassurance to the community in the wake of this tragic accident.” In the statement, Walker also assured residents and employees that Anadarko is cooperating fully with the investigation and by doing so, “that no stone is left unturned,” before any final conclusions.
Following the connection to the two deaths in the home explosion last month, Anadarko’s stocks have fallen slightly over $8 dollars a share from the $60 average in late April. The incident last Thursday only foreshadows a possible further dip in stocks that were averaging in the $70 range during January and February.
Article written by HEI contributor Raymond Arrasmith.