Two people were hospitalized after an oil well explosion in Karnes County.
The blast rocked a rig owned by Amerril Energy Co. on the Eagle Ford shale just before noon, near FM 887 and County Road 229, in Falls City, officials said.
Karnes County Judge Barbara Shaw said one person was taken to an area hospital via ambulance and another was flown to a San Antonio hospital. A Brooke Army Medical Center spokesman could not confirm that the victim was being treated there.
A truck driver who was transferring 45 barrels of hot oil into the well was injured when backflow set the truck on fire and ignited the explosion, said Jason Reyes, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The driver, whose truck also carried two propane tanks, received second- and third-degree burns, Reyes said.
“It just so happened that this individual was transferring the load and was in close proximity of it,” Reyes said.
Hot oil is pumped into the well during the oil production process.
Wax can build up in a well and can be flushed with hot oil to clean it out, Texas Railroad Commission spokeswoman Ramona Nye said.
A Railroad Commission investigator was at the accident site at mid-afternoon, and will “look at whether any rules were violated and whether that contributed to the accident,” Nye said.
The well belongs to Amerril Energy LLC of Houston, and the hot-oil truck is owned by Texas Hot Oilers Inc. of Giddings, Nye said. A spokesman for Amerril Energy was not immediately available for comment. An employee for Texas Hot Oilers declined to comment.
A motorist saw a large plume of smoke near Kenedy, about 12 miles southeast of Falls City, at about 12:15 p.m. By about 2:15 p.m., the fire had been extinguished, Shaw said.
“The only thing left burning is equipment,” she said.
Shaw said a rural area in a one-mile radius around the rig was evacuated as a precaution.
The Karnes County Sheriff's Office, which is handling the incident, did not return calls seeking details.