Feds probe lethal blowout in West Texas

Federal safety regulators are investigating the blowout of an Anadarko Petroleum Corp. well in West Texas that killed two workers and sent three to the hospital, the company said.

The blowout occurred Friday morning while a crew was operating a maintenance rig on a completed well in the Bone Spring play in Ward County. The rig hit a pocket of high-pressure natural gas that caused a blowout and threw the crew off the wellhead, the Ward County Sheriff’s Office reported.

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The men were contractors working for Anadarko and employed by Fort Worth-based Basic Energy Services. Anadarko, based in The Woodlands, has major holdings in West Texas, particularly in the Permian Basin area where the accident occurred.

Spokesmen for the companies declined to comment on the causes of the accident.

“Mainly right now we’re just making sure that everybody is being taken care of,” said Alan Krenek, chief financial officer of Basic Energy Services, in a phone interview.

John Christiansen, a spokesman for Anadarko, said the Occupational Health and Safety Administration is investigating.

“OSHA is investigating to try to determine the cause of it and we are fully cooperating with that investigation,” Christiansen said.

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One man died at the scene and another was pronounced dead after being airlifted to Odessa Medical Center, the sheriff’s office said.

Two others were airlifted to University Medical Center in Lubbock and remain hospitalized. One man was treated at Reeves County Hospital for gas inhalation and later released.

All of the men were West Texas residents, according to Basic Energy Services.