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Companies In Quinton Explosion Dispute CSB Findings

June 17, 2019

Companies involved in the fatal 2018 Quinton well explosion disagree with a federal agency’s findings from an investigation into the incident.

Red Mountain Energy President Tony Say center said in a press release that human errors were to blame for the fatal Jan. 22 2018 well explosion and fire..jpgU.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board released its final investigation report Wednesday into the Jan. 22, 2018, incident that left five men dead and one severely injured. The federal agency listed inadequate training and a deactivated alarm system as contributing factors and issued recommendations to Patterson-UTI Energy Inc., Red Mountain Energy, and others.

Patterson officials released a statement stating it did not agree with all of the agency’s findings but is evaluating how to address issues raised in the report the Associated Press reported.

“We remain committed to preventing an accident like this from ever happening again,” Patterson told the Associated press.

The report states RMO deviated from the original drilling plan and “chose to improvise a new plan as they proceeded real time” without “fully considering the hazards of the operation or considering the need for specialized equipment and procedures.”

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Red Mountain President Tony Say said in a statement Wednesday afternoon through a public relations firm that his company was transparent with investigators.

“Red Mountain is, and will continue to be, committed to transparency and providing safe, responsible operations in the oil and gas industry,” Say said.

CSB recommended RMO develop a new policy that a well-specific well construction interface document be in place before drilling operations and for the company to develop a management of change policy governing real-time changes to the operations and drilling plan.

Say said that his company was acting in accordance with standard industry practices before the incident occurred and said human errors were to blame.

“While we respect the work and authority of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, the findings and opinions rendered in the June 12, 2019, report are inconsistent with the data we submitted, which demonstrate we were acting in accordance with standard industry practice,” Say said. “On the Pryor Trust well, mud weights were kept in a range which maintained well control at all times; this is the case on all Red Mountain wells. The large array of unfortunate human errors identified by the CSB were responsible for this catastrophic event.”

Red Mountain Energy was the lease holder of the Pryor Trust Well west of Quinton, while Red Mountain Operating LLC, was the well operator. The CSB said its was the second well directed by Red Mountain.

RMO contracted the drilling engineer and the company man roles and was responsible for the well plan, well design, determination of casing depth, mud weights, and daily drilling and operational directions.

The CSB report stated RMO did not have sufficient degradation controls in place to maintain the primary and secondary barriers to keep the well overbalanced.

Three contributing factors to the failures of the barriers were the inability to predict formation pressures, operating company personnel did not understand the importance of painting the barrier, and that the driller/company man did not detect the influx of gas entering the well, according to the report.

Investigators found that the drilling operations proceeded without needed planning, equipment, skill, or procedure.

An unexpected flaring during the drilling process “excited” RMO and its contracted representatives because it indicated they were in a productive gas zone, according to the CSB. The decision was made to continue drilling, the report stated.

Text messages between key decision makers representing RMO, including RMO-contracted personnel, showing RMO was “deliberately performing an underbalanced drilling operation,” according to the report.

The CSB found RMO to not have its own management of change program and that no “bridging document” that aligned Patterson-UTI and RMO’s safety management systems.

Investigators determined that RMO leadership ignored communications that were made in the “spirit of time out of safety.”

“I was concerned. I was concerned about the status of the well,” one employee told the CSB. “I told [the driller, mud engineer, RMO geologist, and company man] what my concerns were, and I told my night hand to sleep with his clothes on.”

Another employee communicated the following to the CSB: “The flare was steady when I saw it [before the night tour on January 21]. 20-30 foot. Decent flare. […] This one had me on alert because I had not seen flaring in Oklahoma with Patterson. It was a red flag to me that something might not be right”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Source: McAlester News

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