A fire still raged on Tuesday consuming 36 oil and produced water storage tanks in New Mexico at a drilling site owned and operated by Tulsa, OK-based WPX Energy. Thirty of the tanks are used for temporary oil storage.
There have been no injuries or damage to adjacent property in a rural patch of far northwest corner of New Mexico two miles south of Nageezi, a WPX spokesperson told NGI's Shale Daily. He said the fire that broke out around 10 p.m. CDT Monday and was subsiding Tuesday morning with firefighters still on the scene.
"An investigation of the cause cannot begin until the fire is out and the site is safe for entry," the spokesperson said. "More than 50 emergency responders and WPX personnel are involved in the response effort that has kept the fire contained on the company’s five-acre site where six new oil wells and more than 30 temporary oil storage tanks are located."
In response to initial reports that the blaze broke out at the drilling rig, the WPX spokesperson said that drilling at the site was concluded in May, and the wells were completed last month and the first week of July.
State police restricted traffic in the area as a precautionary measure to help protect a half-mile perimeter around the fire. The company provided lodging to three families that were displaced.
"All operations at the site remain shut in," the spokesperson said. "The company has stopped the oil wells from pumping and closed valves to pipes that were transferring oil to the storage tanks." The wells were completed in June and began producing oil during the first week of July.
Emergency responders determined that letting the fire burn itself out was the safest way to protect firefighters from the intensity of the heat and to limit the possibility of oil spreading off-site, said the WPX spokesperson.