July 18–An oilfield worker was killed, and another was injured after a tank battery caught fire Wednesday off U.S. Refinery Road near Loving.
Eddy County Emergency Manager Jennifer Armendariz said emergency personnel were notified at about 1 p.m.
Kelly Swan with WPX, the owner of the facility, said the fire was believed to have started at about 12:45 p.m.
He said a safety perimeter was immediately established for emergency response activities.
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At about 4 p.m., Swan said the fire was contained at the site, but not yet fully extinguished.
Both victims were employees at separate companies working at the WPX facility, he said.
Swan could not identify the victims, or the extent of the injuries they sustained.
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No drilling or hydraulic fracturing activities were taking place at the time of the incident, Swan said.
The facility contains a saltwater disposal well for oil byproducts from extraction operations, along with injection pumps and storage tanks.
All of the tanks burned in the fire.
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Following the incident, oil wells that feed into the facility from remote sites were shut in, read a WPX news release.
The company also assisted in providing water to fight the fire, Swan said, and is working with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to evaluate the incident.
“This is a serious situation that resulted in the worst possible outcome, which is loss of life,” Swan said. “Human life matters more than anything else, and we will certainly work with the authorities to find answers as quickly as we can.”
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Armendariz said U.S. Refinery Road was closed during the investigation, and urged drivers to avoid the area.
She said the Carlsbad Fire Department, Eddy County Sheriff’s Office and multiple Eddy County volunteer fire departments responded.
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Tank batteries are used to hold crude oil and other — often flammable — products during transport in the oilfield.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, firstname.lastname@example.org or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.
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