A natural gas gathering and processing facility near Medford, Oklahoma, exploded Saturday afternoon and could disrupt the flow of hydrocarbons to energy export hubs on the Texas Gulf Coast.
Oneok, Inc., a leading midstream service provider and the operator of a major natural gas liquids (NGL) systems, experienced an explosion at its NGL fractionation facility in Medford, about 85 miles south of Wichita, Kansas.
"There is an active incident at the plant south of town, and we are asking all residents south of Main Street to evacuate your homes and go to the Medford public school building," the Grant County Sheriff's Office noted on Facebook yesterday.
Michael and Brittany Stone captured this video of an explosion in Medford, Oklahoma, near the Kansas border. This gas plant fire caused evacuations and road closures #KWCH12 pic.twitter.com/V8Cy8FbYfM— KWCH Eyewitness News (@KWCH12) July 9, 2022
ONEOK released a statement later in the day that said, "there was an incident at ONEOK's Medford natural gas liquids fractionation facility ... All ONEOK personnel are accounted for, and we are unaware of any injuries at this time. We are cooperating with local emergency responders and appreciate their quick response. Our focus continues working with emergency responders to extinguish the fire and the safety of the surrounding community and our employees."
ONEOK's fractionation plant separates NGLs into NGL products, such as ethane, propane, butane, and natural gas, used widely in all sectors of the economy. NGL products are used in inputs for petrochemical plants, generating electricity at power plants, burning for cooking, and blended into vehicle fuel.
The Medford fractionation facility feeds NGL products in pipelines through Texas to Mont Belvieu on the Gulf Coast, a major export hub area for energy products. There's no word (yet) on disruptions to pipeline flows.
One Twitter user points out there has been a spate of fires and explosions at oil/gas facilities or pipelines in the last month (similar to the mysterious fires at food processing plants), and the most significant disruption so far has been Freeport's LNG export terminal catching firing last month, curbing some LNG exports to Europe.
2/4 July 9, 2022- ONEOK natural gas plant explosion (Medford, OK)— J Mal (@EPUnum_) July 10, 2022
July 7, 2022- Energy Transfer pipeline explosion (Wallis, TX)
Jun. 27, 2022- Petro Star refinery explosion, (VALDEZ, AK)
Jun. 8, 2022- LNG natural gas plant explosion (Freeport, TX)@hackableanimal
Details are scant about what disruptions the ONEOK fractionation facility has caused. Still, if there were any, it comes at an inopportune time for the Texas power grid (powered half by NatGas) set to experience record demand as soaring heat boosts cooling demand by households and businesses.
From OTC Global:— Mike Zaccardi, CFA, CMT (@MikeZaccardi) July 9, 2022
ERCOT demand is expected to top 80GW Monday afternoon. Fasten your seatbelts. pic.twitter.com/TyLpH65TPU
What could possibly go wrong?