Oil Rig Blast Claims 2 in ND

Monday, September 19, 2011 @ 02:09 PM gHale


Officials are still investigating the cause of an explosion at a newly drilled oil well in western North Dakota that killed two workers and severely injured two others.

The fatal fire occurred in the Williston area last week. This incident occurred in a part of the state that is experiencing the largest oil boom in recent North American history.

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The explosion happened around 5:40 p.m. Brendan Wegner, 21, of Montello, Wis., died at the scene, said McKenzie County Sheriff Ron Rankin. Ray Hardy, of Mohall, died Thursday morning at a hospital in St. Paul, Minn., hospital officials said.

Two other men — Doug Hysjulien of Williston and Michael Twinn of Tioga — were critical in the burn unit at Regions Hospital in St. Paul.

“One of the workers at the scene said they were severely burned,” Rankin said. Authorities have not yet determined the cause of the explosion, Rankin said.

Rankin said the men were working at a workover rig owned by Carlson Well Services Inc. A man who answered the telephone Thursday at the Powers Lake-based business said the company had no comment and hung up.

Alison Ritter, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Mineral Resources, said no oil or hazardous material escaped from the well.

“The fire is out and there was really no well control issue,” she said.

Houston-based Oasis Petroleum Inc. owns the well, which had been producing for about a month, said Taylor Reid, the company’s chief operating officer. None of the company’s employees was at the well site when the explosion happened, he said.

The fatalities bring the number of oil patch related deaths since July 1 to three, said Bryan Klipfel, director of the North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance agency.

North Dakota recorded five oil field-related deaths in fiscal 2011, up from three in fiscal 2010, Klipfel said.

The number of injuries in the state’s booming oil patch jumped from 747 in fiscal 2010 to 1,897 in fiscal 2011, a more than 150 percent increase, he said.



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