Golden Valley oil well still burning after explosionIt will take several more days before crews can begin to get a burning oil well in Golden Valley County that injured three men under control, officials say.
It will take several more days before crews can begin to get a burning oil well in Golden Valley County that injured three men under control, officials say.
Cyclone Drilling, Inc. employees were working on the site 30 miles northeast of Beach when “natural gas flowing uncontrolled out of the well was ignited by rig engines or electrical systems,” causing an explosion Sunday said Director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources Lynn Helms in an email.
Cyclone employees Tim Bergee of Jamestown, Jeff Morton of Watford City, and Andrew Rohr of Marmarth are recovering at a Minneapolis burn center after being burned during the incident, Cyclone Drilling Contract Manager Patrick Hladky said in an email Wednesday.
“They were pulling drill pipe out of the hole during the very last step of drilling the well,” when the explosion occurred, Helms said.
The well has been burning ever since. Brian Engle, vice president of public affairs for Continental Resources, which owns the well, described the flame coming out of the well as similar to a pilot light and getting weaker.
However, the flame flares intermittently, sending flames as high as 40 feet in the air, he added.
Well fire specialists from Houston-based Wild Well Control Inc. are working to get it under control, Engle said.
“They are clearing equipment from the well site and preparing for what’s called near wellhead work,” he said.
Engle does not know when the fire will be extinguished, but well control operations will begin in four to six days, he said.
He did not know whether the well will be usable when the fire is
“It’s too soon to say,” Engle said. “Our first priority on this is the safety of everyone concerned, protecting the environment, bringing the well under control and that’s really our total focus.”
The well site is restricted and members of the public are not allowed within miles of it due to safety concerns, said Golden Valley County Emergency Manager Brenda Frieze.
“Everybody’s been really cooperative when it comes to that,” she said. “There’s so much truck traffic on those roads now that it’s probably best that nobody does go out to look. The road’s covered with so much powder from the dust that it makes it hard to see too.”
Cyclone established a fund for the injured employees, Hladky said. Donations to the “Friends of the Oilfield Fund” can be made at First National Bank in Gillette, Wyo. To make a donation, call the bank at 307-686-3300.