Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.


A series of natural gas pipeline explosions in Texas on Wednesday sent seven people, including a pair of firefighters, to the hospital. (Photo: Marty Baeza/Facebook)

Reminder of 'How Often Fracking Pipelines Blow Up': 7 Hospitalized After Series of Explosions in Texas

The incidents occurred in a region that "is crisscrossed by oil and gas pipelines" and where fossil fuel production is "booming"

A series of natural gas pipeline explosions in Midland County, Texas on Wednesday hospitalized seven people with injuries and highlighted the risks of transporting fossil fuels.

Dr. Sandra Steingraber, a New York-based scientist who advocates against hydraulic fracturing—a fossil fuel extraction method also called fracking—tweeted that her experience seeking an update on the explosions reminded her how often pipelines carrying natural gas blow up:

Over the past two months, four Oklahoma Natural Gas workers and a firefighter were injured by an explosion in Tulsa; a pipeline that exploded outside of Hesston, Kansas caused a fire 100 feet high; and, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "an explosion in a newly installed natural gas line near Moundsville, West Virginia shot flames into the sky that could be seen for miles."

In Texas on Wednesday, "there were three total explosions, the first at 11:30am," according to KFVS 12. "After suppressing the initial fire, a second and third small explosion followed at 12:30pm."

Multiple people were airlifted to University Medical Center in Lubbock, and at least two of those injured were firefighters. The Houston Chronicle reported that as of Thursday, at least one worker remained in critical condition.

Sara Hughes, a spokesperson for Houston-based pipeline operator Kinder Morgan, told Reuters that at least one of the company's employees was injured, and that the company had isolated a portion of its El Paso Natural Gas Pipeline (EPNG) after being informed of a fire near the line.

"There was a third-party pipeline involved that also experienced a failure, and preliminary indications are that the third-party line failure occurred before the EPNG line failure," Hughes wrote in an email.

"The region is the home to the Permian Basin, the largest U.S. oilfield," Reuters noted, "and is crisscrossed by oil and gas pipelines."

And as EcoWatch explained, "Production in the Permian shale field in western Texas has been booming." Outlining the recent extraction activity and pipeline development the area, EcoWatch reported:

According [to] IEA's Oil 2018 forecast, global oil production capacity is expected to grow by 6.4 million barrels a day (mb/d) to reach 107 mb/d by 2023. Much of that growth is led by the U.S. due to oil produced from fracking the Permian, where output is expected to double by 2023.

However, there is currently not enough pipeline capacity to retrieve Permian fuels, and that bottleneck has opened up opportunities for more pipeline development in the region. In June, Kinder Morgan's Texas subsidiary announced a $2 billion Permian pipeline to transport natural gas. Earlier that month, ExxonMobil and Plains All American Pipeline announced a joint pursuit to construct a multi-billion dollar pipeline that will transport more than 1 million barrels of crude oil and condensate per day from the basin to the Texas Gulf Coast.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

UN General Assembly Condemns Myanmar Junta Violence, Urges Arms Embargo

Member nations voted 119-1 in favor of the resolution, which also calls for a return to the country's fragile democracy.

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·

Dems Introduce Abolition Amendment to Scrap Constitution's 'Slavery Clause'

"The loophole in our Constitution's ban on slavery not only allowed slavery to continue, but launched an era of discrimination and mass incarceration that continues to this day," said Sen. Jeff Merkley.

Julia Conley, staff writer ·

'Surreal' and 'Distressing': Climate Experts' Predictions Come True With US Heatwave

"The current heatwave and drought leave no doubt, we are living the dangerous effects of the climate crisis."

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·

94% of Americans Oppose Big Pharma's Control of Global Covid-19 Vaccine Doses: Poll

Half of U.S. adults also consider it unacceptable that pharmaceutical corporations, which monopolized dose production, have profited substantially from vaccines developed using public funding.

Kenny Stancil, staff writer ·

'Counseling Not Criminalization' Bill Unveiled to Boot Police From US Schools

"For too long our education system has been intertwined with the criminal legal system and the results have been tragic."

Andrea Germanos, staff writer ·