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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Fire at Devon rig in Parker Co.

Drilling site fire destroys 4 trucks
Star-Telegram Staff Writers
(Star-Telegram / Ralph Lauer)
A Schlumberger Well Services employee stands on top a fracturing pump as smoke and steam rise from adjacent equipment as firefighters spray it with water after Tuesday's fire. Schlumberger is contracted to do the fracturing of the Devon Gas well in the 7600 block of Farm Road 730 at Calhoun Bend west of Azle. The fire did an estimated $4.5 million in damage to the equipment but no one was injured.
AZLE -- Flames as high as 40 feet belched from a fire that consumed four large well-service trucks Tuesday at a drilling site in northeast Parker County, firefighters said.
The blaze near Farm Road 730 and Calhoun Bend Road, about five miles southwest of Azle, was caused by an equipment malfunction, and the well itself was not involved, said Ramona Nye, a spokeswoman for the Texas Railroad Commission in Austin.
No one was hurt, but four trucks were destroyed by the massive fire, said Murl Trainham, a firefighter with the Silver Creek Volunteer Fire Department.
Nye said an inspector for the commission was at the site. The fire, she added, was reportedly caused by a ruptured oil line on a ``frac” pump.
``It sprayed hot oil, and three adjacent frac pumps caught fire,” Nye said, adding that the pumps are typically mounted on trucks.
Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler said the blaze was reported at about 8:30 a.m. Firefighters from the Silver Creek, Aledo, Azle and La Junta fire departments responded.
The blaze was contained within about 30 minutes, but it took at least another hour to completely put it out, firefighters said.
Heavy smoke was billowing in the area, according to reports. The site is about a quarter mile from Silver Creek Elementary School, but it was not evacuated or locked down.
The well was being operated by Devon Energy, which is based in Oklahoma City, Nye said. The trucks were owned by Schlumberger, an oil field service company in Sugar Land, said Trent Lee, an operations manager for the company who was at the site. He said his company was contracted to perform hydraulic fracturing operations at the site.
Hydraulic fracturing has been done on virtually all of the 4,200 wells drill in the Barnett Shale in the last decade. It involves a high pressure injection of water into a newly drilled wellbore before gas production begins. The water penetrates through perforations in the well’s casing and inflicts tiny hairline cracks in the otherwise impermeable shale rock, allowing the natural gas to release.
Fracturing normally takes from eight hours to two or three days, depending on the complexity of the project.
Devon Energy is the largest gas producer in the Barnett Shale, having produced more than 1.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas since it bought the pioneering Barnett Shale operations from the former Mitchell Energy of Houston in 2001. Devon has drill about 2,000 wells in the Barnett Shale since 2001.
The Barnett Shale is Texas’ largest natural gas field. In 2005 the field produced more than 460 billion cubic feet of natural gas, and production this year is running about 25 percent ahead of last year. Among land-based U.S. natural gas fields, only the San Juan Basin in northern New Mexico is larger than the Barnett Shale.
New York-based Schlumberger is one of the larger oilfield services companies in the world, employing 66,000 people in 80 countries. Services companies like Schlumberger and its rival, Halliburton, are employed by operators like Devon to do technical work on wells, including fracturing and engineering work.
Representatives of Schlumberger and Devon said they are required to file reports about the fire to the Railroad Commission.
Lee and Alesha Leemaster, a spokeswoman for Devon, both said the fire would not slow down their production in the field.

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