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Chemical Safety Board Investigates Fatal Gas Well Explosion in Oklahoma

Five workers were killed after a gas well exploded on Jan. 22.

A gas well explosion on Jan. 22 that killed five drilling rig workers in Quinton, Okla, has prompted the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) to open an investigation following the incident.

The Houston Chronicle released the following names of those who died: 35-year-old Josh Ray of Forth Worth, Texas, 26-year-old Cody Risk of Wellington, Colo, 29-year-old Matt Smith of McAlester, Okla., 60-year-old Parker Waldridge of Crescent, Okla. and 55-year-old Roger Cunningham of Seminole, Okla.

Twenty workers were on scene at the well at the drilling site of the explosion. Red Mountain Operating (RMO) is the lease holder and operator of the well involved in the incident, and the well was drilled by Patterson-UTI Energy, according to the CSB.

The CSB states that in drilling, the operator is responsible for the well’s design and the drilling program, which should account for well-specific conditions that could increase the risk or complexity of the drilling contractor’s various drilling and well control operations.

 In addition, the agency noted the following in a statement:

  • The drilling contractor, in this case Patterson-UTI Drilling Company, LLC (Patterson-UTI), brings the infrastructure (drilling rig) and supplies the workforce (rig crew) which operates the drilling rig. Consequently, the drilling contractor also has more direct control over the primary operations (drilling) and emergency response (well control).
  • Another well had recently been drilled by Patterson-UTI on this pad without incident. Drilling of 1H-9 began on January 11, 2018, and currently the CSB is unaware of any deviations from the original well plan. At the time of the incident, the rig crew had recently pulled the drillpipe and associated drilling tools out of the well in preparation to change out the drill bit.
  • Both RMO and Patterson-UTI have cooperated with the CSB’s investigation and promptly provided the well plan, daily drilling reports, and electronic rig data.
  • The CSB is currently reviewing that information and plans to interview eye witnesses and others present at the wellsite.
  • Investigators will return to the site to continue their field work as key pieces of equipment are ready to be collected.

CSB investigations examine all aspects of chemical incidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems. For more information, contact [email protected]

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