Truck fire shuts down a well in Apache’s new ‘Alpine High’ field
A truck fire Thursday shut down a well site in Apache Corp.’s Alpine High field — the big new oil discovery in an scenic and environmentally sensitive corner of West Texas.
No one was injured in the fire and the well was shut in, an Apache spokesman said. The fire happened just north of Interstate 10 in Reeves County.
“We can confirm an incident involving a vehicle fire near our Alta location north of I-10 in Reeves County,” the company said in a written statement. No one was injured and the well at the location was shut “as a precaution,” the company said.
“Apache activated its crisis response plan, and the fire was extinguished without incident,” the company added.
Neta Rhyne, who lives in Toyahvale and owns a scuba and swim shop across the street from the state park, said she could smell a chemical odor from her home.
“The smell was horrible,” Rhyne said. “I’m five miles away and I could smell it at my house.”
Apache in September announced the discovery of a new shale oil and gas field, the “Alpine High.” It’s technically part of a the state’s biggest oil field, the Permian Basin, but is tucked into a remote section where there’s been little oil and gas activity over the decades.
If Alpine High works, it has been touted as possibly the biggest U.S. unconventional oil and gas find in a decade.
The company’s acreage is centered around the desert oasis of Balmorhea State Park, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Water flows into the park from San Solomon Springs, the largest in a series of interconnected springs in the area, and home to endangered desert fishes, the Pecos gambusia and the Comanche Springs pupfish.
Apache said it has created exclusion zones and won’t drill under Balmorhea State Park, although it owns the mineral rights there. It has also promised not to drill inside or under the city limits of Balmorhea.
Alpine High holds an estimated 3 billion barrels of oil and 75 trillion cubic feet of rich gas, the company said, in just two of five geologic zones that are stacked on top of each other like a layer cake. Apache leased 182,000 acres in Reeves County in the second half of 2015, roughly 20 percent of the county.
Apache estimates it has 2,000 to 3,000 future drilling locations in Alpine High’s Woodford and Barnett rock formations. The company is working to the west of other companies in Reeves County and in formations where few companies have struck oil.
The Pecos police and fire departments, the Reeves County Sheriff’s Department and the Department of Public Safety responded to the accident Thursday.