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Uncontrolled Gas Release and Inability to Activate Blowout Preventer Identified as Causes in Deadly Oklahoma Oil Rig Explosion


State and federal officials continue to investigate the deadly explosion at a natural gas drilling rig in Pittsburg County, Oklahoma that tragically killed 5 workers on Monday.

Initial Investigation Cites Fault Blowout Preventer and Uncontrolled Release of Natural Gas as Potential Causes of Deadly Oklahoma Oil Rig Explosion

According to a preliminary report released yesterday by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, an uncontrolled release of gas fed the fire that was ignited by the explosion, allowing the blaze to continue well into the evening and preventing responders from searching the rig for the 5 missing men.

The initial report also noted that a rig worker tried to activate a blowout preventer to shutdown the well, but was unable to do so.

Bodies of 5 Missing Workers Recovered on Tuesday

The January 22nd explosion was reported around 8:45 a.m. at a well-pad operated by Oklahoma City-based Red Mountain Operating.

22 people were working at the site, including 17 who escaped the burning rig either unhurt or with only minor injuries. One of the workers was airlifted to a Tulsa hospital and later released.

The five men who died in the explosion have been identified as:

  • Matt Smith, 29, of McAlester, Oklahoma
  • Parker Waldridge, 60, of Crescent, Oklahoma
  • Roger Cunningham, 55, of Seminole, Oklahoma
  • Josh Ray, 35 of Fort Worth, Texas
  • Cody Risk, 26, of Wellington, Colorado

Their remains were located Tuesday afternoon, in an area of the rig known as the “doghouse,” close to where the fire initially started.

Three of the men – Ray, Risk and Smith – were employees of Houston, Texas-based Patterson-UTI Energy, the rig’s owner.  Waldridge and Cunningham worked for contractors.

There were no Red Mountain employees present at the site when the rig exploded.

U.S. Chemical Safety Board May Launch Investigation Into January 22nd Explosion

The U.S. Occupational Safety Administration has opened a federal investigation into the Oklahoma rig explosion.

According to The Houston Chronicle, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) could soon launch its own probe.

“The CSB has sent two investigators to gather additional information in order to determine if the CSB will be pursuing a full investigation,” a Board spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Oklahoma Explosion Occurred When Crews were Attempting to Drill a New Well

Monday’s tragedy came as crews were working to drill a new well. It was not yet complete and was not producing natural gas when the explosion occurred.

The derrick, which collapsed in the blast, was surrounded by several tanks, all of which caught fire.

The remote switch that controlled the well’s blowout preventer was rendered inoperable by the explosion.

Contact Our Undefeated Oilfield Explosion Lawyers for a Free Consultation at 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here.

Our Undefeated Oilfield Explosion Lawyers continue to investigate the deadly rig explosion in Oklahoma and will  post updates as new information is made available.

Having recovered more than $1 Billion for our clients—including hundreds of oil field, refinery and pipeline workers across the United States who were seriously injured or tragically killed in connection with workplace explosions and accidents—our lawyers have the resources and experience needed to stand up against the largest companies in the world to ensure that our clients and their families are fully compensated for their injuries and losses.

If you or a loved one were involved in the Oklahoma rig explosion and have questions about our investigation or your options moving forward, contact our Undefeated Explosion Lawyers for a free consultation at 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here to send us a confidential email through our “Contact Form.”

All consultations are free and since we work exclusively on a contingency fee basis, you’ll owe nothing unless we win your case.