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Deadly Quinton Oklahoma Drilling Rig Explosion Facts Emerge

July 5, 2018

Quinton Oklahoma Deadly Drilling Rig ExplosionDuring the morning of January 22nd, 2018 around 8:45 am a crew of 5 workers manning the drilling rig floor of Patterson UTI Rig #219 were tragically killed in a fiery explosion near Quinton, Oklahoma in what has become deadliest oilfield disaster since the 2010 Macondo Deepwater Horizon.

In an amended petition filed on behalf of Dianna Waldridge, surviving spouse of Parker Waldridge by her attorneys Deans & Lyons on July 3rd, 2018 facts concerning this deadly tragedy are now coming to light.

Those facts are outlined here

Background Facts Surrounding The Well

The amended petition states the following as background facts;

"On January 22, 2018, at the time of the Explosion, Patterson was in the process of drilling the Well, which was operated by Red Mountain. In order to facilitate Patterson’s drilling operations, Red Mountain and Patterson entered into an IADC Daywork Drilling Contract setting forth the respective obligations of Patterson and Red Mountain. According to this contract, Patterson’s safety policies and procedures governed all the work being performed on the Rig (whether performed by Patterson or another company). Upon information and belief, Red Mountain was responsible for this Well’s design and the Well’s Drilling Program (the “Plan”).

Deans and Lyons Oilfield Injury Attorneys

Red Mountain formulated the Plan which required Patterson to drill to a vertical depth of approximately 7,700 feet and a horizontal length of 10,286 feet. Patterson, as the Drilling Contractor, provided its Patterson Rig #219 and supplied its Rig Crews to properly and competently operate the Rig during all phases of these rotary drilling operations. As the Drilling Contractor, Patterson had direct control over all rotary drilling operations and all of the necessary and required emergency responses for subsurface conditions with the regard to controlling uncontrolled flows from the Well (“Well Control”). Patterson also was responsible for the maintenance and procurement of the Blow Out Preventers or “BOPs”, as well as the support equipment that allows the BOPs to engage properly.

 Along with the Plan, Red Mountain and Patterson created, revised, and/or approved a mud program that was to be utilized during the drilling operations on the Rig. NOV, who also participated in the creation, revision, and/or approval of the mud program, supplied the mud/drilling fluids and technicians to administer/monitor the mud program. As would later be confirmed, the mud program was not adequate to prevent the Explosion and was not adequate to facilitate the desired drilling operations being performed on the Rig. Furthermore, upon information and belief, the mud program—which was itself inadequate—was not followed by Red Mountain and Patterson, and NOV failed to ensure that the mud program was adequate and failed to ensure that the mud program was being carried out in a reasonably safe manner.

Shortly before the Explosion occurred, Patterson had drilled to a depth of approximately 13,500 feet when it was decided to remove or pull (“Trip-Out or “Tripping-Out”) the entire assembly of pipe, its bottom-hole assembly (“BHA”) and the Rock Bit (“Bit”), i.e. (the “Drill String”) out of the Well. During the time leading up to the Trip-Out of the BHA, monitoring data strongly suggested that gas was flowing up to the top of the Well. Nevertheless, reasonable steps were not undertaken to maintain well control or shut the well in prior to a complete loss of control. Patterson had removed the entire drill String from the Well and removed the Bit at around 8:25 AM on the morning of January 22, 2018.

Around that same time, Mr. Waldridge had just started his shift (“Tour”) and had made his way up to the floor of the Rig where the “Doghouse” (a building located atop the Rig floor) is located. It is believed that the Patterson crew was already engaged in using the Rig’s Hoisting System and had Tripped-Out of the Well prior to Mr. Waldridge starting his shift. After Tripping-Out of the Well, the Patterson crew had removed the BHA and were attempting to put another BHA back into position.

 Mr. Waldridge served as a Wellsite Consultant on behalf of Crescent. Crescent contracted with Red Mountain to provide well-site management at the Well. Joel Acosta,  Crescent’s Vice President of Operations and a licensed engineer, managed Crescent’s operations for Red Mountain. Mr. Waldridge reported directly to Acosta who was the first in command at Crescent as it concerned this Well.

As a Wellsite Consultant, it was not Mr. Waldridge’s practice to regularly be on the Rig floor or in the Doghouse, rather, Mr. Waldridge would spend a substantial amount of time in the Wellsite Consultant’s Trailer which was on the Well’s site (the “Location”). Upon information and belief, while Mr. Waldridge was present on the Rig floor, and as Patterson’s Rig Crew operated their Rig to conduct these Tripping-Out and Tripping-In operations, an uncontrolled release of gas occurred from the Well under substantial pressure.

Ordinarily, when a Well begins to flow on its own in an “uncontrolled” manner, there are warnings that the Rig Crew operating the Rig must recognize. These warning signs were apparent, reasonably known, and ignored by the Defendants in an effort to drill quickly and to bring the Well in faster.

 Stacked atop of the Well’s equipment used to construct and complete it (the  “Wellhead Assembly”); another assembly of high pressure valves, the “BOPs” can be used to close (“Shut-in”) the Well and prevent it from flowing to the surface. It is believed that Rig #219 had three individual BOPs; an Annular Preventer (the “Annular”), a double Ram-Type Preventer (the “Double Ram”) and single Ram-Type Preventer (the “Single Ram”). All these BOPs were atop the Wellhead Assembly. The Rig’s BOPs can be operated to OPEN or CLOSE from the Rig Floor and/or down on the Ground. When this Well began to flow in an “uncontrolled” manner, Patterson’s Rig Crew was obligated to undertake all of the required steps to mitigate it and Shut In the Well. It is unclear why the Rig’s BOPs remained OPEN when indications of uncontrolled flow began to occur. It is also unclear why the Defendants ignored signs that existed well in  advance of the Explosion that gas was flowing from the Well.

 Because of this uncontrolled flow, natural gas was released from the Well and mixed with oxygen in the atmosphere. Ultimately, a flammable mixture of gas and oxygen found an ignition source which was the genesis of this Explosion and Fire. This Explosion rocked the Rig, sending flames fifty feet into the air and consuming the Rig in an inferno. The Fire raged out of control for several hours before the Well could be Shut-In and the flames extinguished. Several failed attempts were made to Shut-In the Well in using the BOPs with no success. Again, it is unclear why the BOPs did not properly function, had not been used, or were not used to properly Shut-In the Well before gas reached the surface and the Explosion subsequently occurred.

 While the Fire raged, Mr. Waldridge was trapped in the Doghouse along with four other men: Patterson’s Tool Pusher, Driller, a Floorhand, and a Directional Driller. Tragically, all five men were burned to death. The resulting Fire was so intense that authorities had to rely on dental records in order to confirm the identities of Mr. Waldridge and these four other men.

 According to those who knew him best, Mr. Waldridge was a loving father, devoted husband, and dedicated worker. Mr. Waldridge predeceased his wife, Dianna Waldridge, their four daughters, and six grandchildren. "

The petition goes on to list new allegations of Gross Negligence against Patterson and includes additional details outlining Patterson's sordid safety history. In addition the petition adds to NOV and Crescent as new parties to the case. Those are outlined from the petition below.

The entire petition can be downloaded and read here

2018.07.03 Ltr to Court re Plaintiff's First Amended Petition & Summons.pdf Quinton Oklahoma Rig Explosion Amended Petition
2018.07.03 Ltr to Court re Plaintiff's First Amended Petition & Summons.pdf, 317KB

Additional Parties

Concerning NOV the petition states;

"NOV supplied the mud/drilling fluids and technicians to administer/monitor the mud program at the Well on the date of the Explosion. The mud program supplied, administered, and monitored was not adequate to prevent this Explosion. NOV had a responsibility to ensure that its mud program was adequate for the drilling operations being performed at the time of the Explosion; however, NOV failed to ensure that the mud program was adequate and failed to ensure that the mud program, such as it was, was carried out in a reasonably safe manner. As stated herein, NOV’s conduct, performed by and through its employees, agents, and representatives committed acts and/or omissions that taken individually and collectively constituted negligence.

NOV’s negligence was a proximate cause of Plaintiff’s injuries. "

Concerning Crescent the petition states;

"Crescent supplied the well-site management and monitoring services at the Well for Red Mountain on the date of the Explosion. Crescent’s Vice President of Operations, Joel Acosta, reported to Red Mountain and Patterson, and had control and the ability to direct the day-to-day operations at the Well. Crescent’s acts and omissions through its agents, contractors and employees, primarily Acosta, failed to ensure the work was being performed in a reasonably safe manner, in accordance with industry standards, Red Mountain’s policies and procedures, or Patterson’s policies and procedures. As stated herein, Crescent, through its conduct performed by and through its agents, contractors and employees, committed acts and/or omissions that taken individually and collectively constituted negligence.

Crescent’s negligence was a proximate cause of Plaintiff’s injuries. "

(Top left to right) Josh Ray, Matthew Smith, Cody Risk, (Bottom left to right) Parker Waldridge, and Roger Cunningham.

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