Static electricity is one suspected source of ignition for an oil and gas well explosion that occurred on Monday, March 3rd, at a Bill Barrett Corp. drilling site west of Lucerne, Colorado. Two workers were injured in the incident.
The explosion happened just after 11:20pm Monday night. Authorities say the incident occurred while workers were separating oil and water output from the well, a final part of the drilling process. Oil is believed to have accumulated on top of water being put into a temporary tank. That exposed oil, and its resulting vapors, are believed to be what ignited.
The source of the ignition is still under investigation, but two theories are prominent. The first is that static electricity ignited vapors, leading to the explosion and fire. A second theory postulates a truck parked too close to the well somehow ignited the vapors.
Three fire companies responded to the incident, using foam instead of water to combat the blaze. No hazardous materials were spilled. There was no damage to nearby property, and the two injured workers were treated on scene.
An official says the well will be shut-in while an investigation is conducted.