A federal report says an explosion and fire that killed five workers at an Oklahoma natural gas well last year was caused by the failure of blowout prevention devices and other factors, including inadequate training and an ineffective safety management system.
The report was released Wednesday by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board. It says controls designed to prevent the uncontrolled release of gas and other fluids from the well were not effective, leading to the Jan. 22, 2018, explosion and fire near Quinton, about 125 miles east of Oklahoma City.
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Matt Smith, 29, of McAlester; Parker Waldridge, 60, of Crescent; Roger Cunningham, 55, of Seminole; Cody Risk, 26, of Wellington, Colorado and Josh Ray, 35, of Fort Worth lost their lives in the explosion. Survivors of the men have filed lawsuits against rig operator, Red Mountain Energy and the drilling contractor, Patterson-UTI.
Among other things, the 158-page report says some operations at the Houston-based Patterson-UTI Energy Inc. drilling site were conducted "without needed planning, equipment, skills, or procedures," nullifying the primary barrier designed to prevent a blowout.
Red Mountain Energy released the following statement in response to the report:
“Red Mountain is, and will continue to be, committed to transparency and providing safe, responsible operations in the oil and gas industry,” Red Mountain President Tony Say said. “While we respect the work and authority of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (“CSB”), the findings and opinions rendered in the June 12, 2019, report are inconsistent with the data we submitted, which demonstrate we were acting in accordance with standard industry practice. On the Pryor Trust well, mud weights were kept in a range which maintained well control at all times; this is the case on all Red Mountain wells. The large array of unfortunate human errors identified by the CSB were responsible for this catastrophic event.”