January 31, 2020 / 5:35 PM / 19 days ago

Second person dies from blast at Chesapeake well site

HOUSTON (Reuters) - An explosion this week at a Texas oil well has claimed a second fatal victim and two others injured by the blast remain hospitalized, Chesapeake Energy Corp said on Friday.

The oilfield worker, who was not identified, was a contractor and died on Thursday night from blast injuries, said Chesapeake, the operator of the well.

Windell Beddingfield, a 38-year-old employee of Eagle Pressure Control, died on Wednesday from the well blowout, according to attorney Eric Allen, who represents Beddingfield’s mother. Beddingfield lived in Lindale, Texas, he said.

The names of the second fatal victim or the two injured workers were not released.

The injured employees were among three contract workers originally airlifted to medical centers in Austin and Houston and they remain hospitalized, Chesapeake said. It provided no details on their condition.

Eagle Pressure Control did not reply to requests for comment.

The fire was extinguished on Thursday, state officials reported earlier.

Employees of Alice, Texas-based Forbes Energy Services and Eagle were among 11 people working at the well when it exploded, the state’s oil and gas regulator said on Friday.

Forbes did not respond to requests for comment.

The well blowout occurred on Wednesday during a well servicing operation at a remote site near Deanville, Texas, about 75 miles (121 km) east of Austin.

The workers were in the process of upgrading the well when a surge of natural gas ignited, prompting the blast. The source of the ignition has not been identified, according the report.

The company plans to remove the rig involved in the incident and secure the well, an inspector with energy regulator Texas Railroad Commission wrote on Thursday.

Attorney Allen filed a temporary injunction on Friday in Burleson County District Court seeking an order to require Chesapeake to preserve evidence from the blast.

The fatalities were the first in Texas involving a well blowout since April 2013, according to data from the state’s energy regulator. A blowout involves a sudden, high-pressure release of oil or gas from a well.

The number of workers in Texas injured during well blowouts has declined in recent years amid the rise in shale drilling. Nine workers were injured in blowouts last year, compared with 14 in 2017 and 21 in 2016, state data showed.

Reporting by Liz Hampton, Jennifer Hiller and Gary McWilliams; Editing by Dan Grebler, Alistair Bell and Daniel Wallis

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