Colorado releases accident report on oil and gas worker killed in explosion near Mead
Greeley resident Oscar Lopez Velasquez, killed in blast, worked for Energes Services
Lewis Geyer, Times-Call An oil tank burns at the scene of an oil well explosion near the Grand View Estates neighborhood in Mead on May 25, 2017.
By John Ingold | firstname.lastname@example.org | The Denver Post
Workers were replacing piping connected to a set of oil storage tanks near Mead when an explosion occurred last month that killed one worker and injured three others, according to a state accident report released Wednesday.
The report adds a small amount of detail to an accident about which little is still known.
The explosion happened May 25 at the Sekich Tank Battery, a collection of oil storage tanks near Highway 66 and Colorado Boulevard. The battery is owned by Anadarko, though the report lists the operator as one of the company’s subsidiaries, Kerr-McGee Oil & Gas Onshore.
Oscar Lopez Velasquez, 32, of Greeley, was killed in the explosion. An Anadarko spokesman said Wednesday that Velasquez worked for Energes Services, an oilfield contractor with offices in Greeley. Energes did not immediately respond to a request for comment when contacted Wednesday.
Records from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration show that investigators inspected both Kerr-McGee and Energes on scene following the accident, as well as two other companies: Dominguez Welding and Unlimited Services, both of Fort Lupton. Investigations of all of the companies are still listed as open in OSHA records, and no violations have so far been alleged.
In its report to the state, Anadarko said that none of its employees was on-site when the explosion occurred.
The workers were combining equipment from multiple tank groupings — known as “batteries” — into one location and were replacing and rerouting piping to do so, according to the accident report. They were finishing up work in a pit dug between the tanks and another piece of equipment when the tanks exploded, the report states.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has asked Anadarko to conduct a “root cause” analysis of the explosion to figure out what sparked it. That investigation is ongoing.
On May 25, 2017, third party contractors were working to combine equipment from multiple tank batteries into one central location, including the rerouting and replacement of piping associated with the separator and tanks, commonly referred to as dump lines. Contractors had been working to complete the modifications since April 26, 2017. On the day of the incident, crews
were finishing modifications to the dump lines in an excavation dug between the separator and tank batteries. At approximately 15:15 Mountain Time, one or more tanks exploded. The four tanks and associated piping were destroyed in the event. No Anadarko employees were on scene at the time of the incident. One contractor was fatally injured and three others were transported to regional medical facilities for treatment. This investigation is ongoing.