Fire, explosion injure Prudhoe Bay worker

Posted: Sunday, August 18, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- An oil field worker was hospitalized with injuries after a powerful explosion and fire early Friday morning at a Prudhoe Bay oil well.

The well-site worker, whose name was not released, suffered burns to his face, hands and arms in the incident, which occurred at 2:10 a.m., said BP spokesman Ronnie Chappell.

The worker was taken to a clinic at Prudhoe Bay before being flown to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. Friday afternoon, he was to be flown to the burn treatment unit at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Chappell said. No one else was injured in the incident.

The explosion blew out doors on the roof of the small, two-story metal industrial building that houses the well head, Chappell said. It also caused the walls of the building to bow outward. A pickup truck outside the building also suffered heavy fire damage, he said.

The fire burned for six hours before crews were able to put it out at about 8 a.m.

The incident occurred at a large complex known as ''A'' pad, a large gravel pad that contains about 36 producing and injecting wells. The site produces about 11,000 gallons of crude oil a day.

All production from the pad was shut down Friday and would not be restarted until the company was sure it was safe to do so, Chappell said.

''We are still pumping seawater down the well to ensure that it's going to be safe to work around,'' Chappell said.

Workers hoped to discover the source of the gas leak that fueled the fire.

The company said no crude oil spilled as a result of the incident.

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