Houston Oil Field Explosion and Blowout Lawyers
Undefeated Texas Oil Rig Accident and Explosion Lawyers
Workers in the upstream oil and gas industry face dangers every day they’re on the job. But few are as catastrophic as an oilfield blowout and explosion.
Because of the significant hazards involved with drilling, interventions, and workovers, oil and gas operators are required to ensure that operations are properly planned, employees and contractors are thoroughly trained, and the necessary equipment is in place to protect against kicks and changes in hydrostatic pressure that, when not properly controlled, can have catastrophic (and fatal) consequences for those onsite.
Billions Won and the #1 Largest Oilfield Recoveries in US History: Call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here for a Free Consult
Our Undefeated Oil and Gas Blowout and Explosion Lawyers have won Billions in verdicts and settlements for oilfield workers and their families in connection with the worst oilfield blowouts and disasters in history, including the largest settlements in US history for workers who were severely burned and tragically killed during the January 2020 blowout in Burleson County, Texas, the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion, and the Shell Enchilada platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.
Some of our Recent Recoveries include:
- #1 Largest Oilfield Burn Injury Settlement in US History
- #1 Largest Oilfield Accident Settlement in US History
- $100 million settlement on behalf of workers injured in an oil rig explosion
- $75 million settlement on behalf of workers injured in an oil rig blowout
- $52 million settlement on behalf of an injured oilfield worker
- Billions for Injured Workers and their Families
If you or a loved one were injured, catastrophically burned, or tragically killed during an oil field blowout or explosion, our Oilfield Accident Lawyers will
1. ensure you have access to the best doctors and medical providers in the country, and
2. devote whatever resources are necessary to holding the companies accountable and making sure that you and your family receive the maximum recovery possible
All consultations are free and confidential, and you won’t pay us anything unless we win your case.
Call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here to send us a confidential email through our Contact Us form.
Well Blowouts Begin with a Kick
A blowout is the uncontrolled release of oil or gas from a well due to the failure of its pressure control system.
Blowouts themselves result from an uncontrolled “kick,” defined as “undesirable entry of formation fluids into casing or tubing.” Kicks occur due to formation pressures exceeding workover fluid hydrostatic pressures, which causes formation fluids (gas, oil, or condensate) to flow into the wellbore.
Subsea blowouts: involve offshore drilling rigs, where pressure control equipment –the blowout preventer – is located on the seafloor. Because they can occur at depths ranging from 10 to 8,000 feet, subsea blowouts are extremely difficult to control. This was the case when the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, tragically killing 11 offshore workers and injuring dozens of others.
Surface blowouts: occur on land and are the most common type of well blowout. In addition to oil and gas, a surface blowout can cause rocks, mud, and sand to be ejected from the well.
Underground blowouts: are less common and occur when fluid from high-pressure formations flows to low-pressure formations.
Oil and Gas Well Blowouts are Preventable
Operators are required to follow American Petroleum Institute (API) rules, OSHA regulations, company safety policies, and other industry standards to control kicks and prevent oil and gas well blowouts. These safety regulations mandate the proper selection and utilization of well control equipment, including mechanical and hydrostatic barriers and blowout preventers, drilling mud, mud monitoring equipment, degassers, and mud mixing systems.
When these systems are implemented and functioning properly, kicks are controlled—and blowouts are prevented.
Having successfully represented more than 1,000 oilfield in connection with the worst oil well blowouts and rig and platform explosions in history, we’ve learned that every one of these disasters is entirely preventable and invariably the result of an operator’s refusal to follow industry and company safety policies in an effort to speed up production.
Insufficient Mud Weight
A kick occurs when the formation pressure exceeds the mud weight, which leads to a loss of hydrostatic overbalance. This pressure imbalance causes hydrocarbon liquids and/or gases to flow into the wellbore, resulting in a kick.
Insufficient mud weight and the resulting loss of hydrostatic overbalance is a leading cause of kicks and blowouts.
Reduction in Hydrostatic Pressure when Pulling Out of the Hole
When the work string is pulled out of the hole, it displaces the drilling mud, causing a reduction in the volume, level and pressure of the mud. This reduction eliminates the hydrostatic overbalance needed to maintain control of the well.
To avoid a reduction in hydrostatic pressure (and prevent a kick), the hole must be periodically filled with mud as the drilling string is removed from the hole.
Swab pressures are created by pulling the work string from the borehole.
Since these are negative pressures, swab pressure will reduce the effective hydrostatic pressure through the hole. A potential kick will develop if the pressure reduction is large enough to lower the effective hydrostatic pressure to a value below the formation pressure.
To prevent the reduction in pressure that occurs when swabbing, the drill string must be pulled slowly and in controlled intervals. It’s also important to remember that swab pressure is cumulative—meaning it increases the reduction in pressure that occurs when the pipe is pulled from the hole.
Because the swab pressure is exerted at every point below the work string, this is a hazard that must be accounted for even when the drill string is inside the casing.
Blowout Preventer Failure
Blowout preventers are designed to seal off the well and withstand the intense pressure that occurs after a kick or uncontrolled flow of hydrocarbons. When functioning properly, it almost instantaneously closes off the well and prevents a blowout.
While blowout preventers substantially decrease the likelihood of a blowout, they’re only effective when they’re properly maintained and the operator has properly trained its employees and contractors on how to operate them after a kick or loss of well control.
The BP Deepwater Horizon explosion is one of the most recent and devastating examples of a blowout preventer’s failure.
Failure to Stop Work and Initiate Shut-in Procedures
Blowouts don’t happen without warning. At the first sign of a kick, steps should be immediately taken to shut-in the well. Shut-in procedures should also be initiated whenever there’s any doubt as to whether oil or gas is flowing from the well.
There’s no difference between a small flow and a full-flowing well. Any delay in initiating shut-in protocols can result in a massive blowout, regardless of flow strength.
Oil and gas companies are responsible for ensuring their workers are properly trained on stop work authority and shut-in procedures.
Other Causes of Oil and Gas Well Explosions
While uncontrolled kicks and blowouts can quickly lead to catastrophic and fatal disasters, they’re—unfortunately—not the only hazards that oilfield workers face when drilling or performing a workover.
The constant presence of highly volatile and combustible hydrocarbons, the use of electricity and fuel to power equipment, and the need to weld and perform other types of hot work each present unique hazards that has the potential to trigger a devastating blowout and explosion.
Some of the most common causes of oil and gas well blowouts and explosions include:
- Fires: because oil, condensate and other hydrocarbons are highly flammable, any spark, fire, or ignition source on a drilling site can lead to a massive explosion. Even static electricity can cause a blowout if proper well control procedures are not in place to prevent hydrocarbons from escaping the well.
- Welding and Hot Work: the presence of flammable hydrocarbons in and around a drilling rig makes hot work, such as welding, cutting, and grinding, particularly hazardous while working on or around a land or offshore well. Without proper well control equipment and procedures in place, a single spark from a welding torch, spark plug, or engine can lead to a catastrophic and fatal explosion.
- Defective Equipment: while failure of the blowout preventer is the most common equipment-related causes of a blowout, corroded tubes, rods, and pipes, as well as any damaged or malfunctioning equipment also substantially increase the chances of a catastrophic explosion or blowout.
- Electricity: oilfield workers frequently use electric tools while drilling and performing workovers . In addition to being properly maintained, these tools must be certified as “intrinsically safe” by OSHA in order to be used around oil and gas wells or any other volatile hydrocarbons. Frayed power cords and sparks or heat from equipment that isn’t intended and certified to be used in hydrocarbon environments often serve as the ignition source needed to trigger a blowout or explosion
- Combustible Hydrocarbons: oil and natural gas must be safely stored and handled once extracted from a well. Operators must ensure the integrity of all storage tanks and pipelines and train employees to properly handle any combustible liquids and vapors present on the job site
- Negligence: the hazards associated with drilling and well interventions can be minimized and controlled as long as operators utilize well control procedures, such as double barriers, to prevent and control kicks, ensure their employees and contractors are properly trained, and immediately stop work when a potential hazard is identified during the job. Unfortunately, profits over safety is the norm, rather than the exception, in the oilfield, causing operators to rush jobs in an effort to save money and increase production. When working around hazardous hydrocarbons, like oil or gas, there is no margin for error, as a single mistake can cost one or more lives.
Undefeated Oilfield Explosions Lawyers with Billions Won: Call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here for a Free Consult.
Our Undefeated Oilfield Blowout and Explosions Lawyers have won Billions, including the #1 Largest Oilfield Accident Settlement in US history, for oilfield workers and their families following the most catastrophic explosions and blowouts in history.
If you or a loved one were injured, catastrophically burned, or tragically killed in connection with an oil or gas blowout or explosion, we’re here to help. Call 1-888-603-3636, use the Chat form on our website, or Click Here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form.
We’ll answer your questions, explain your rights, and provide you with the information you need to decide what’s best for you and your family.
All consultations are completely free and confidential, and you won’t pay us a cent unless we win your case.