The explosion occurred at the Patterson 219 gas drilling rig near Quinton, Oklahoma, after crews had drilled about 13,500 feet.
The explosion was caused by an uncontrolled release of gas, also known as a “kick,” during the tripping-out process.
One of the workers who survived the explosion tried to close a blowout preventer — the last line of defense — but was unable to stop the gas release. The problem is under investigation by OSHA.
Five men died in the explosion. Over the last few weeks, lawsuits have been filed by the families of Matt Smith, 29; Josh Ray, 35; Cody Risk, 26; Parker Waldridge, 60; and Roger Cunningham, 55.
According to lawyers representing the men:
“Yet another tragic preventable incident caused by irresponsible companies working in the oilfield who place money and profit over safety and human life.”
The defendants include Red Mountain Energy, the company that maintained control over operations when the oil rig exploded.
The lawsuits also name Patterson-UTI Drilling Co., based in Houston, Texas, the company that was drilling the natural gas well. Patterson-UTI was recently named to the “Dirty Dozen” list for unsafe practices.
In the past 10 years, Patterston-UTI has been cited 110 times by OSHA for “serious” safety violations, with 13 deaths in that time-frame.
The defendants are accused of negligence and reckless conduct that resulted in the wrongful deaths.