June 26, 2012 / 9:01 PM / 6 years ago

BP investigates fatal Colorado natgas blast

DURANGO, Colorado (Reuters) - BP is investigating the cause of an explosion at a natural gas compressor station in western Colorado that killed one worker and injured two others, the latest deadly accident to plague the international oil major in the United States.

The incident occurred on Monday at 8:15 am MST during maintenance on a pipeline at BP’s Pinon compressor station near Bayfield, a small gathering hub for production from the company’s San Juan basin, the company said.

BP officials did not have a timeframe for when the station would be brought back online. It handles about 30 million cubic feet of gas per day — a tiny fraction of U.S. daily supply.

“We just don’t have a lot of new information right now,” said a company spokesman. BP said in a separate statement that an investigation was underway, and that the company would cooperate with probes by federal, state and local officials.

Traders said the shutdown did not affect natural gas prices, which rose 3 percent to a five-month high on Tuesday on forecasts for warm weather.

BP’s safety record has been in the spotlight in recent years. In 2010, the Macondo well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 and resulted in the largest offshore spill in U.S. history. In 2005, the Texas City refinery explosion killed 15.

In 2006, a BP pipeline in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska leaked more than 5,000 barrels of crude onto the snow-covered tundra from a corrosion-eaten hole, the largest spill ever on the state’s North Slope.

BP lists itself as the top natural gas producer in Colorado, operating around 1,500 wells, most of which are “unconventional” wells, or ones that use new techniques to extract oil or gas from harder-to-reach formations like shale. The company’s operations in the state are centered in the San Juan basin.

BP’s U.S. shares were up slightly at $37.81 on Tuesday.

Reporting by Eileen Houlihan, Janet McGurty and Edward McAllister; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Marguerita Choy

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