Texas oil, gas producers keep wary eye on wildfires in state
Houston (Platts)--21Apr2011/701 pm EDT/2301 GMT
Texas oil and natural gas producers are keeping a wary eye on the dozens
of wildfires raging across the state, although to date they have not resulted
in any serious disruptions to production or flows, sources say.
As of Thursday, more than 1 million acres of the Lone Star State had been
hit with wildfires, as Texas and much of the US Southwest remains in the grip
of a months-long drought.
The most significant fire-related impact on the sector was seen around a
week or so ago when a utility, Southwest Texas Municipal Gas, shut off gas
service to the western Texas city of Fort Davis after the Rock House wildfire
destroyed power lines, causing electric service to the town to be shut off.
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Randy Guzman, STMG general manager, said the company had restored gas
service by Thursday afternoon to almost all of the utility's about 390 Fort
Guzman said the company ordered the gas shut-in after the fire, which
started outside the nearby town of Marfa, moved toward Fort Davis, destroying
power lines leading into the town.
"The pumps went down in the city of Fort Davis and they were unable to
pump water into the fire trucks," Guzman said. "It shut down the whole city."
During the April 16-17 weekend shutdown, West Texas Gas, the
distribution company that serves the larger region, shut down the city-gate
interconnection to Fort Davis and replaced the existing regulators with new
"We were pressuring up distribution lines after lunch Tuesday.
Everything was fine. The system was good," Guzman said.
The impact of the fires on the state's exploration-and-production
industry was harder to determine Thursday, as several sources told Platts of
hearing of isolated shut-ins of individual wells as the fires approached too
close. However, no official agency was able to provide any hard data on the
fires' effects on gas production.
The Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees the E&P industry, had
received no reports of fires, well blowouts or oil spills related to the
wildfires as of late Thursday, according to an email from spokeswoman Ramona
However, Alex Mills, president of the Texas Alliance of Energy
Producers, said he had receive anecdotal reports of "lots of crude oil
production that's going to be severely damaged," as a result of the Possum
Kingdom Lake fire about 85 miles west of Fort Worth.
Although the region is located to the west of the core area of the
gas-prone Barnett Shale play, it is home to a number of older oil-related
"Most of it is from old oil production, pre-Barnett Shale activity,"
In addition, in the Permian Basin region of West Texas and eastern New
Mexico, "both oil and gas production is going to be affected" by the
wildfires, he said.
--Jim Magill, email@example.com