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One Dead After Explosion at Blue Racer Midstream Site in Ohio

An electrical subcontractor was killed late Wednesday after an accident at a condensate pumping skid caused an explosion and fire at a site owned and operated by Blue Racer Midstream LLC in Noble County, OH, the company confirmed in a statement.

According to the Noble County Sheriff's Office, the man was a resident of Virginia, but his name is not being released pending notification of family members. No other injuries were reported.

Blue Racer said the accident, the cause of which remains unclear, occurred at 4:15 p.m. EST at a site adjacent to a non-operational Consol Energy Inc. well in Marion Township in the southeast part of the state. The Noble County Sheriff's office arrived on the scene immediately following the incident along with local fire departments, the Noble County Emergency Management Agency and the state Fire Marshall. State regulators with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said they were aware of the accident and were working to gather more information early Thursday.

"Everyone at Blue Racer Midstream is deeply saddened by this event," the company said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family members and friends that have been affected."

The site has been secured and all producing wells and pipelines in the area have been shut-in and secured, according to Blue Racer. A Consol spokesperson said the company's operations had nothing to do with the blast and added that none of its workers were hurt.

Blue Racer spokeswoman Casey Nikoloric said "a thorough investigation to determine all of the facts and the root cause" of the accident is currently underway. Blue Racer is a joint venture formed in 2012 by Dominion Resources Inc. and Caiman Energy II LLC (see Shale DailyDec. 24, 2012). Its midstream system includes more than 500 miles of natural gas gathering, compression,  processing, condensate handling and storage in the Utica Shale.

Wednesday's accident comes just weeks after a condensate pipeline in nearby Monroe County, OH, serving Blue Racer's Natrium Processing and Fractionation facility in West Virginia ruptured and caught fire before burning itself out.

The recent incidents, though, are just  the latest in a series of fatal accidents and emergencies at, or near, well sites throughout the Appalachian Basin in the last 10 months.

In February, an explosion at a Chevron Appalachia LLC well site in southwest Pennsylvania left one worker dead and another hospitalized after an explosion there caused two wells to burn for days (see Shale DailyAug. 7; Feb. 11). In April, a subcontractor was also killed at a Rice Energy Inc. site in Belmont County, OH, when he was crushed by a large piece of equipment ahead of completion operations at that company's Bigfoot 9H Utica Shale well (see Shale DailyApril 7).

In June, a nonfatal fire erupted at a Statoil ASA well site in Monroe County (see Shale DailyJune 30), while just last month no injuries were reported after a natural gas leak at an American Energy Partners LP site in Jefferson County, OH, prompted the evacuation of more than 400 homes in the area (see Shale DailyOct. 29).

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