OK Pipeline Blast under Investigation

Wednesday, October 9, 2013 @ 04:10 PM gHale


Northern Natural Gas is working to determine the cause of a late Tuesday night blast of a natural gas pipeline in rural northwest Oklahoma. Firefighters put the blaze out early Wednesday morning with no injuries reported.

The fire occurred at 11 p.m. Tuesday in a remote and rural area in Oklahoma’s panhandle, and residents could it up to 50 miles away, officials said.

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About “a half dozen” area volunteer fire departments responded to Tuesday night’s blaze, said Mike Loeffler, spokesman for Northern Natural Gas.

The incident will not disrupt any service to the company’s market area, he said. The affected section of the pipe ended up isolated and the remaining gas emptied from that portion of the line, he said.

“For safety reasons, we monitored the line last night and approached the pipeline this morning when it was under control,” Loeffler said, adding the investigation could take up to several weeks. “After all the information is gathered, we will start repairs, but there will be absolutely no disruption to service.”

Property damage was just to the pipeline itself. Northern Natural Gas instituted a gas management plan as soon as the fire occurred on Tuesday night to reroute natural gas to other pipelines, Loeffler said.

Northern Natural Gas pipeline in Harper County, Oklahoma, is a trunk pipeline that supplies gas to the company’s market areas north of Kansas to states such as Nebraska, Iowa and Michigan, Loeffler said. Harper County is about three hours northwest of Oklahoma City.

Although the cause is still under investigation, Loeffler said a typical cause of pipeline failure is third party damage, usually due to excavation near the pipeline by a company that failed to inquire in advance when it might hit a pipeline.

Northern Natural Gas utilizes an 8-1-1 number that companies and individuals must call before undergoing excavation in the area to avoid hitting existing pipelines.

Omaha, Nebraska-based Northern Natural Gas operates nearly 15,000 miles of natural gas pipelines in the United States, including interstate lines that runs from the Permian Basin in Texas to the Upper Midwest.

Northern Natural Gas is a unit of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc.



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