It appears a damaged valve led to explosions and a fire at Baytex Energy’s Reno location earlier this summer. After hearing what sounded like two simultaneous explosions the morning of July 27th, staff found a 1,000 barrel production tank on fire.
An initial investigation has found that the valve that lets gas flow from the production tanks to the flare stack was damaged, allowing air to make its way into the tanks. Air was also introduced when a vacuum truck was used to remove fluid from the tanks on July 21st.
Although the site was shut in at the time, the flare system was operational and ignited the mixture of air and gas. There were explosions in two tanks, which blew their roofs off.
Baytex argues that by having some parts of the facility shut down, certain safeguards were also turned off and led to the explosions. It is reviewing its procedures for shutting-in well sites and evaluating the types of valves used.