Oil Field Worker Was Knocked Off Platform In Robertson County Blast

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NEW BADEN, Texas - We are learning more on an oil field tank explosion earlier this week in Robertson County that critically injured a worker.

That worker was using a cutting torch to dismantle some old tanks when they exploded.

News 3 has a closer look at what happened from the operator of that well site northeast of Franklin.

An oil field worker was using a cutting torch to remove a metal catwalk on a tank Wednesday near New Baden in Robertson County.

Two storage tanks holding eight inches of oil sludge exploded, the first one knocking him unconscious.

The Texas Railroad Commission's inspection report says the 25-year-old man hit his head against the side of one of the tanks and was dangling above the tanks for a few seconds until the heat burned the line holding his harness, and he fell to the ground.

"It was an accident, unfortunate that the guy got hurt, but I've never seen anything like that before," said Tom Finaly, who is the operator of the Cazey Lease off Rabe Cutoff.

He was there when the tanks exploded.

He'd hired subcontractor J-Bar Services out of Franklin to remove the tanks.

The oil well stopped producing in 2004 according to the Railroad Commission records.

Finally says he personally hadn't worked at the site since 2011.

"We got into some issues with the landowner and then production actually all actions with the well ceased because of legal issues," he said.

While this well was inactive, oilfield work is booming in Texas with 896 rigs in Texas to date producing three million barrels a day.

The U.S. is also beginning to out produce Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Dan Hill is the Department Head for Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M and says tank explosions like this one are extremely rare.

But they've been known to blow because of lightning.

The worker was airlifted to Memorial Hermann Hospital to be treated for burns to his head.

Finaly says the worker shouldn't have been using a cutting torch by the tanks.

"I just wish for him a speedy recovery you know. My prayers and thoughts are with his family," Finaly said.

At last check the worker was in critical condition in Houston.

The oil well operator says he has hired another company to continue removing the tanks.