Williams’ Opal gas processing plant shut down after explosion

Williams Partners LP and Williams reported an explosion and fire at about 2 p.m. MST yesterday affecting the TXP-3 cryogenic processing train at their natural gas processing plant in Lincoln County, Wyo., near the town of Opal. There were no reported injuries or damage to property outside the plant. TXP-3 is one of five cryogenic trains at the plant.

Williams reports immediately shutting down the Opal plant and activating emergency procedures. First-responders evacuated an area including the town of Opal and closed Highway 30 near the plant. Williams is making accommodations for the displaced residents.

Natural gas gathering from surrounding producing areas is temporarily suspended as a result of the incident. Williams is evaluating alternatives that would allow restoration of gas production as soon as possible.

The Opal plant processes gas gathered from wells in the area and produces NGL. It has an inlet capacity of 1.5 bcfd. Recent volumes have been roughly 1 bcfd, Williams said.

Gas pipeline data from Genscape Inc. show five nomination points that actively receive gas from Opal processing plants in the past 2 weeks. The aggregate flow of these five points in the week before the explosion was 992 MMcfd. Since the explosion happened in the middle of the gas day, nominations dropped by 477 MMcf on Apr. 23 to 516 MMcf. Nominations dropped to zero for today. The data compiled nominations on Kern River Gas Transmission, Colorado Interstate Gas, Northwest Pipeline, Ruby Pipeline, and Rockies Express to derive an output for Opal.

Williams is still evaluating the extent of damage to the facility and does not have a timeline yet for return to service. The company said it will conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of the incident in cooperation with regulators.

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