Explosion rocks natural gas plant in Wyoming, no injuries reported

by Reuters
Wednesday, 23 April 2014 23:23 GMT

(Adds details of incident, background)

April 23 (Reuters) - An explosion rocked a natural gas-processing plant in southwestern Wyoming on Wednesday, causing no injuries but prompting the evacuation of the facility and a nearby town, a company spokeswoman said.

The explosion in an apparatus called a turbo expender at the Williams Companies plant in Opal, Wyoming, touched off a fire that was still burning several hours later, company spokeswoman Michele Swaner said.

She said all 42 employees of the plant had been accounted for and were not injured. The Lincoln County Sheriff's Department referred calls regarding the incident to Williams.

The explosion marked the second safety incident for Williams Companies Inc in the last few weeks.

The town of Opal has a population of less than 100 people.

On March 31, a pipeline within its liquefied natural gas facility in Washington exploded and shrapnel from the blast caused a leak in one of two liquefied natural gas tanks, prompting evacuation orders near the plant outside the rural town of Plymouth.

Williams operates two natural gas processing plants in Wyoming which remove liquids and other impurities from natural gas to allow it to be transported in large pipelines.

Gas comes to the processing plants from Williams gathering system, a network of 3,500 miles of pipelines which collect gas produced in the region.

The Williams' system has a capacity of more than 1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) and has more than 3,500 receipt points serving the Wamsutter and southwest Wyoming areas.

The Opal and Echo Springs processing plants have a combined daily capacity of more than 2.2 Bcf/d of natural gas and nearly 125,000 barrels per day (bpd) of natural gas liquids.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Additional reporting by Eileen O'Grady; Editing by Steve Gorman and Diane Craft)

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