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Transco Restart in Gibson, LA, Delayed Following Fatal Explosion

The planned restart on Monday of a damaged Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Co. (Transco) natural gas compression station in Gibson, LA, is being delayed following an explosion and fire that killed three people and injured two others seriously Thursday morning.

Williams Partners LP, which owns the facility in Terrebonne Parish, said no gas was flowing through the system when the incident occurred about 11 a.m. CDT. Planned maintenance was being performed by contractors at the time on a slug catcher tank, which is designed to separate liquids and impurities from the gas stream.

The scheduled maintenance near Station 62 was to have been completed with a restart on Monday. However, "receipt locations upstream of Station 62...will not be available for flow to Transco until further notice,” the operator said in an electronic bulletin board notice.

The restart date "is unknown at this time," a Williams spokesman told NGI on Friday.

Louisiana State Police confirmed that three contractors working for Transco were killed and two sustained serious injuries. The 13 Williams employees stationed at the facility were not injured. There also was no danger to the surrounding community, emergency officials said.

"We are deeply saddened by this tragedy," said Williams Operations Manager Warren Toups. "Our thoughts and prayers are with those injured and their families during this very difficult time. We appreciate the efforts of emergency personnel and all of the agencies who responded to the incident. We look forward to cooperating with regulatory agencies to conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the incident."

An initial assessment by the company "confirmed that the natural gas pipeline did not rupture. The building containing the compressor engines was not damaged by the fire."

The facility is about 60 miles from the company's Geismar Olefins facility, where an explosion and fire in June 2013 killed one person and injured dozens (see Daily GPIDec. 31, 2014June 14, 2013).

Following the Geismar incident, there were two other major incidents at Williams facilities last year. The Opal, WY, gas processing facility was partially shuttered for two weeks following a fire in one of five cryogenic processing trains (see Daily GPIMay 6, 2014). Also last year, a fire in one of two storage tanks at a facility near Plymouth, WA, injured several employees (see Daily GPIMarch 31, 2014). Following the incidents, Williams commissioned a companywide safety audit (see Daily GPIMay 15, 2014).

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