A fire that started late Monday evening at a WPX oil production site in San Juan County, New Mexico, continues to smolder after gradually dissipating overnight and early Tuesday.
A total of five fire-fighting crews from different jurisdictions assisted with response efforts near Nageezi, N.M. Three crews were dismissed after daybreak Tuesday morning as the fire waned. Two units remain in place to monitor the fire’s culmination and maintain a safety perimeter.
The fire is being allowed to burn itself out due to the intensity of the heat, the number of oil tanks involved and to contain petroleum fluids on WPX’s five-acre site, predominantly in the storage tankage.
All 36 temporary storage tanks at the site (holding either oil or produced water) caught fire and burned. This equipment was supporting initial flowback operations from six new oil wells that began producing last week.
WPX has taken steps to implement air quality monitoring in light of the smoke that resulted from the fire. The company has mobilized environmental contractors to conduct air screenings with FLIR infrared cameras and photo ionization detectors.
No injuries or damage to adjacent property has been reported. State police restricted traffic in the area as a precautionary measure, but no road closures occurred. WPX continues to work with families who were temporarily displaced for safety reasons.
Initial reports about a drilling rig explosion at the site were erroneous. No drilling activity was taking place at the site prior to the storage tanks catching on fire. Drilling on the new wells ended in May. The wells were completed in June and began producing oil during the first week of July.
Media inquiries can be directed to Kelly Swan at (918) 629-1037.