Fire Contained at Texas Oilfield Site, One Critically Injured

Reuters, November 21, 2019

One person was seriously injured in a Midland, Texas, explosion and fire on Thursday involving several storage tanks and a truck used in oilfield operations, city and hospital officials said.

The fire was contained at the property owned by petroleum and petroleum products distributor Oasis Transportation and Marketing Corp around 1:30 p.m. CST, according to Erin Bailey, a public information officer for Midland. Oasis did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Midland Memorial Hospital received one patient, who was in critical condition after the blast, hospital public relations manager Tasa Richardson said. Richardson declined to provide additional details about the injuries.

Officials with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality are monitoring air quality in the area to detect potentially hazardous chemicals, said TCEQ spokesman Brian McGovern.

After the fire is out, TCEQ will coordinate any cleanup needed, McGovern said. It will also investigate whether there were any regulatory violations in connection with the cause of the blaze.

An inspector with the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state’s oil and gas regulator, is also at the site, said Ramona Nye, a spokesperson for the commission.

A hot oiler truck, which is used to remove wax deposits from oil wells, caught on fire at the Oasis facility, Nye said.

Four or five frac tanks that typically hold water or proppant were also engulfed in the flames, and a firefighter truck caught fire after fuel spilled onto the ground and spread the blaze, CBS7 news reported.

Firefighters first responded to the incident at about 10:30 a.m. CST (1630 GMT), according to CBS7.

Businesses and homes within about a half-mile of the fire were evacuated, KCBD, an NBC affiliate, reported.

Midland, Texas, is one of the most active oil-producing areas in the United States. It includes part of the Permian basin, the largest U.S. shale basin.

The blaze was about half a mile south from a Midland oil storage terminal owned by Centurion Pipeline LP, but there was no impact to oil tanks at the hub, said Casey Nikoloric, a spokeswoman for Centurion. “All clear at the Centurion site,” she said.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude prices in Midland did not appear to be affected by the fire, though it was seen trading stronger around $1.40 a barrel over U.S. crude futures earlier in the morning session, prior to the fire, traders said.

Reporting by Collin Eaton and Jennifer Hiller in Houston and Devika Krishna Kumar and Laila Kearney in New York; Editing by David Gregorio and Lisa Shumaker

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