Attorneys for the victims of the Quinton gas well explosion have filed amended lawsuits this week in Pittsburg County against the companies behind the well, including operator Red Mountain Energy LLC and rig owner Patterson-UTI Energy Inc.
Five men died in explosion on January 22, 2018: 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.
E&E News reporter Mike Soraghan writes that attorneys are accusing Red Mountain of using cost-cutting measures that ultimately led to the men's deaths.
"Red Mountain Energy LLC of Oklahoma City and its representatives, they say, ignored warnings that using cheaper, lighter "drilling mud" risked losing control of the well.
"It's error after error after error," said David Rumley, a Corpus Christi, Texas, attorney representing the families of two of the men who died in the fire.
"This entire thing could have been prevented if these companies had done what they were supposed to do."
Lighter drilling mud, in addition to being cheaper, created a bigger flare at the site, which was used to persuade investors that the well was more productive, Rumley said.
And a control room door was broken and blocked, he said. It could have let them escape to safety, but instead, the bodies of the workers were found stacked up against it."
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued citations against three companies in connection to the January deadly drilling rig explosion near Quinton. The three companies face penalties totaling more than $118,000 - the maximum allowed for OSHA standards.
E&E News notes that OSHA did not offer a cause for the accident. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board issued an update on its investigation and plans to issue a final report in 2019.