Thursday, September 18th14.4°C
23474
22285

Explosion, fire at natural gas pipeline hub forces evacuation of small southwest Wyoming town

OPAL, Wyo. - A small town in southwest Wyoming was evacuated Wednesday after an explosion and fire at a natural gas processing facility and major national pipeline hub. There were no reports of injuries.

The gas has been shut off, but people who were in Opal, about 100 miles northeast of Salt Lake City, went to an area about 3 miles outside of town as a precaution, said Lincoln County spokesman Stephen Malik. The town has about 95 residents.

"They were downwind from the plant," said Lincoln County Sheriff Shane Johnson. "The fire was still very active, and because of the nature of the processing that goes on there, that was the call that was made for safety reasons."

Johnson said he didn't know when people would be allowed back into Opal.

No structures in the town were affected, and the fire was confined to the facility operated by pipeline operator Williams Partners LP, county officials said.

The explosion occurred in the plant's cryogenic processing tower, a structure that chills unrefined natural gas to separate out impurities, but officials didn't yet know what caused the blast.

All employees at the gas processing plant were accounted for, Williams spokesman Tom Droege said.

The explosion was reported at about 2 p.m., and the fire continued to burn into the evening. Williams spokeswoman Michele Swaner said it was being allowed to burn itself out.

The gas processing plant in Opal removes carbon dioxide and other impurities from natural gas that comes from gas fields in the region. It can gather up to 1.5 billion cubic feet of gas per day, and it sends it into pipelines that go to urban centres to the east, west and south.

Williams Partners, based in Tulsa, Okla., said in a statement it has suspended collecting gas from surrounding areas and is looking for ways to resume production.

The Opal hub, where regional pipelines converge, is the principal spot where prices are set for natural gas produced from the large gas fields in western Wyoming and the San Juan Basin in Utah. The plant makes Opal perhaps best known as a regional gas-pricing hub. Government officials and industry insiders closely watch Opal hub prices to monitor trends with regional gas supply and demand.

Williams operates the Northwest Pipeline, which runs through Opal on its way to the Pacific Northwest. An explosion in March at a liquefied natural gas facility operated by Williams on the Washington-Oregon border injured five employees.

Gas from the Williams plant at Opal serves a huge number of customers from the Pacific Northwest to Southern California, the Southwest and even as far east as Ohio, said Brian Jeffries, executive director of the Wyoming Pipeline Authority.

How long the plant would be out of commission was unknown, but Jeffries said the effect won't be as bad as if the explosion occurred during winter, when demand for natural gas increases for heating, or summer, when demand increases to generate electricity for air conditioners.

"It really is that time of year when it's sort of least likely to impact customers," he said.

Williams was paying to lodge Opal residents at the Little America resort in Little America, about 25 miles east of Opal, and at a Best Western in Kemmerer, about 15 miles to the west.

"We want to make sure everybody's taken care of and they're put up for the night if they're not able to go back to their houses," Swaner said.

"Since nobody's on site, it's going to take some time before we can begin our investigation," Swaner said.

Renny MacKay, spokesman for Gov. Matt Mead, said investigators would look into the cause of the explosion once the site was secured.

The Canadian Press


Read more Business News

23486


Recent Trending




Today's Market
S&P TSX15439.35-19.53
S&P CDNX966.54-5.97
DJIA17252.5195.66
Nasdaq4590.036+27.847
S&P 5002009.80+8.23
CDN Dollar0.9126+0.0048
Gold1227.70-8.2001
Oil93.14-1.28
Lumber349.00+1.00
Natural Gas4.009-0.068

 
Okanagan Companies
Pacific Safety0.16-0.005
Knighthawk0.01-0.005
QHR Technologies Inc1.32+0.07
Cantex0.055-0.005
Anavex Life Sciences0.2295-0.0066
Metalex Ventures0.060.00
Russel Metals36.99+0.62
Copper Mountain Mining2.70-0.03
Colorado Resources0.16-0.01
ReliaBrand Inc0.024-0.003
Sunrise Resources Ltd0.02-0.005
Mission Ready Services0.290.00

 





FEATURED Property
1982482401 - 1160 Sunset Drive
2 bedrooms 2 baths
$569,000
more details
image2image2image2
Click here to feature your property
Please wait... loading


Executors and their duties

There will be a time when you will need to decide who you should appoint as executor of your Will. As well, there may be a time when you will be asked by someone to act as the executor of his or her W...


Power-save your way to a down payment

Part 1 of 2 Photo: Thinkstock.com1. Move in with your parents or in-laws Explain that you're thinking strategically in moving back home. The quickest way to get into the housing market is to ma...


Price Guarantees

Article written by Linda Bustos Though I’d never recommend “lowest prices” as a unique selling proposition, I notice many retailers use a Price Match Guarantee or even a 110% Guara...

_



23109




Member of BC Press Council


22962