Three men, all from North Dakota, are in critical to serious condition at a regional burn center following an explosion and fire Sunday on an oil rig located about 30 miles northeast of Beach.
The explosion occurred at about 10 a.m., and the resulting fire continued to flare up and subside Monday.
A specialty oil fire control crew, Wild Well Control, was at the scene.
The cause of the explosion is under investigation.
Cyclone Drilling of Gillette, Wyo., owns the rig and was drilling under contract for Continental Resources of Oklahoma.
Continental Resources president Harold Hamm said the rig crew had completed drilling and was laying down the drill pipe at the time of the explosion.
"What it exactly set it off would be speculation right now," Hamm said. The well is into the Bakken formation - known for containing a light gas - and no fracture treatment had been started, Hamm said.
Patrick Hladky, contract manager for Cyclone Drilling, said he would release more information and the identities of the injured workers after talking with their families.
They were taken from the well site by ambulance to Dickinson and airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center Burn Unit.
Hladky said the company's focus now is on assisting the workers and their families.
He said Cyclone currently has 16 rigs operating in North Dakota and has, in
30 years in business in the state, never had an explosion at a rig.
Hamm said it's the first time there has been a rig explosion at any of his company's well sites in
44 years of developing
"We've had a good relationship with Cyclone, and they're doing all that can be done for these workers," Hamm said.
Damage to the rig was intense, including to the rig substructure, derrick and engines.
Hamm arrived at the well Monday and said it was still flaring every three to four hours, gradually subsiding between flares.
"They're (Wild Well Control) not trying to put it out until they're in a position to control the well," he said. "This is a high-risk business, no doubt about it."
(Reach reporter Lauren Donovan at 220-5511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)