The Incident

    At 1930 hours, following a major lightning storm, a gas storage facility operator received notification from the local 911 call center of a large fire on their gas storage wellsite. At that time, a column of intense orange flame was visible two miles away.

    Key Events

    1
    Evacuate and care for impacted stakeholders
    4
    Extinguish and kill the well
    2
    Establish command and control of the scene
    5
    Mitigate offsite pollution
    3
    Interface with first responders
    6
    Recover business continuity

    How We Helped

    With a clear response strategy, a well written response plan and highly-trained emergency response personnel the scene was controlled, the incident was contained, and fatalities and catastrophic pollution were avoided.

    Prepare
    • The Operator has prepared wisely by completing a new integrated emergency response plan specifically for this location
    • The Operator conducted a community outreach training session for all local first responders
    • The Operator reached out quickly for special assistance from well control specialists, air monitoring and pollution control experts
    • Thanks to coordination and shared service agreements, response resources were dispatched from three neighboring facilities
    • Sheriff’s deputies and firefighters were trained on how to set up an appropriate command post a safe distance from the wellsite.
    • As a result, command and control of the scene were established within the first hour of notification
    Respond
    • While nearby stakeholders were being contacted, local firefighters checked the facility perimeter for additional sources of unignited gas.
    • The Operator’s response team located and closed nearby flow valves, eliminating leaks and potential fires at other nearby well sites.
    • Arriving regulatory officials were guided directly to the Operators Command Center for initial briefings
    • Upon confirmation of what had happened, the Operator’s PIO established a JIC in the nearby community center for arriving media personnel
    • Commonwealth regulators expedited approval of emergency fire water extraction permits to allow for water shuttles to take place 24 hours a day.
    • The well control activities were completed in 5 days without a single injury.
    Recover
    • A facilitated debrief was held to capture lessons learned about the incident.
    • Due to the hazardous materials, the fire, and runoff into the nearby forest, a joint effort between the Fire Dept., State Police, Dept. of Environmental Quality, the EPA, US Chemical Safety and Health Investigation Board, and OSHA was successfully managed.
    • The Operator’s business continuity plan was activated as a component of the incident response which allowed for other critical production operations to continue.
    • The Operator held a facilitated tabletop exercise 4 months after this incident to-reevaluate their plan and assess the competency of their response personnel.
    • The Operator conducted ICS training for their senior leadership personnel to help them better understand the process for all future emergency situations.

    Large incidents such as this one can happen to anyone. Preplanning is necessary, as is having on hand a list of all resources that could be used. Call on your specialists early in any incident so actions can be taken quickly and safely. Make sure you have the right tools at your fingertips at all times.

    Lessons Learned

    The storage well blowout reinforced a number of important lessons learned.

    This allows all responding departments, agencies, and company officials, and others to know who is in charge and what is being done. Within minutes, a temporary command post was established 1,000 feet from the well location.

    Large incidents such as this one can happen to anyone. Preplanning is necessary, as is having on hand a list of all resources that could be used. Call on your specialists early in any incident so actions can be taken quickly and safely. Make sure you have the right tools at your fingertips at all times.

    Keeping the scene clear of nonessential equipment allowed evacuation vehicles and arriving response equipment to get in position without having to fight against crowded roads.

    Keep only essential personnel on scene during an incident like this. Legal counsel may be needed for litigation after the incident, but should not be at the command post when attempts to control the incident are in process. Similarly, O&G Senior Leadership should be allowed on the scene as long as their knowledge and cooperation are needed; when they begin to interfere with the emergency processes, they should be excused.

    Company personnel and first responders should be trained in the methods used to mitigate a complex incident. Community outreach training provided by the Operator was the major contribution to the success of this response.

    Hasty, heroic actions may result in dead heroes. Complex operations demand a well-thought-out, methodical approach with constant reevaluation and continual size-up. You don’t know what the well will do next – safety of on-scene personnel is paramount.

    The Interliance Team was instrumental in developing a management system with the robust tools needed to support our organization
    VP QHSE Operations
    Global Response Organization
    Interliance’s integrated response management systems were crucial in allowing our well control provider to execute a successful outcome to this catastrophe
    VP, QHSE
    Global Well Safety Company
    I've worked with all of the top consulting names before, but nobody delivered real results for me like Interliance. They don't make plans that go in binders on a shelf, they gave me a realistic strategy and supported us in every step of execution.
    CEO
    International BPO Provider

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