CSB Discusses Early Stages of Investigation into Fatal Gas Well Explosion

Published January 31, 2018

Both the drilling contractor and operator of the well involved in a fatal explosion that fatally injured five workers are cooperating with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board’s investigation into the incident, the agency said in an update published today. CSB is in the early stages of investigating the fatal gas well explosion near Quinton, Okla., and is reviewing the well plan, daily drilling reports, and electronic rig data provided by Red Mountain Operating, the lease holder and operator of the well, and Patterson-UTI Drilling Company, LLC, the drilling contractor. The agency plans to interview eye witnesses and others present at the wellsite at the time of the incident as early as next week. Drilling of the well in question began on Jan. 11, 2018. CSB has learned that the rig crew was preparing to change out the drill bit at the time of the explosion; the crew had recently pulled the drillpipe and associated drilling tools out of the well in preparation for the change.

In drilling, CSB says, “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.” The drilling contractor, who brings infrastructure such as the drilling rig and supplies the work force, has more direct control over the primary drilling operations and emergency response.

CSB investigators will return to the wellsite as key pieces of equipment are ready to be collected.