Two hurt in explosion, fire at Texas saltwater facility

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 29, 2013 3:53 PM

(Reuters) - Two people were hurt in an overnight explosion and fire at a private oil and gas firm's saltwater disposal facility in east Texas on Tuesday, an executive at the company said.

Dan Crawford, a partner with Three Forks Energy, said the facility has six tanks that hold saltwater produced in oil wells before it is injected into an underground disposal well. He said there was "minimal" oil at the facility in Van Zandt County.

Terry Blackmon, the fire marshal for nearby Van, Texas, said the explosion and fire occurred at 3 a.m. CDT (0900 GMT).

Blackmon told Reuters the facility had three fiberglass tanks with a total capacity of about 1,500 barrels that were destroyed by the fire. Those contained crude oil, condensate and saltwater, he said. Two larger metal storage tanks, empty at the time, were damaged, he added.

Blackmon said the two people who were hurt did not work at the facility and were taken to the burns unit of a hospital in Dallas. He spoke by telephone from the scene.

Traders said the incident appeared to have little impact on U.S. crude oil futures, which rose $1.13 to settle at $97.57 a barrel on Tuesday on strong U.S. housing data.

Crawford said he had no details of how the explosion happened. He said initial reports could have assumed that the facility stored oil, and that he was shocked that it could occur at a saltwater disposal facility.

"We're a private company, we own and produce some oil and gas wells around Texas and this is one of our facilities," Crawford said.

Blackmon said Chevron Corp pipeline representatives were at the scene, as the company has pipeline operations in Texas. Chevron spokesman Gareth Johnstone said none of those operations was affected by the fire.

(Reporting by Kristen Hays in Houston and David Sheppard in New York; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick, David Gregorio and Dale Hudson)