Lawsuits Allege Cheaper Drilling Plan Used in Gas Well Blast

October 31, 2018

The operator of a gas well that exploded in southeastern Oklahoma used a cheaper and quicker drilling plan than experts advised, the latest court filings in two lawsuits allege.

Amendments filed earlier this month to the wrongful death lawsuits filed by Cody Risk’s estate and Josh Ray’s family allege Red Mountain used a lighter drilling fluid mixture, which posed a greater risk in order to save money, despite recommendations from six engineering consultants, The Tulsa World reported.

Drilling fluid serves as the primary defense against well blowouts and must be dense enough to keep underground fluids from entering the well bore.

Red Mountain President Tony Say said the lawsuits show a lack of knowledge in well-site operations.

“The amended lawsuit filed earlier this month against our company contains many false allegations and unproven assertions,” Say said. “We categorically deny any claim our company put profits over people.”

The January explosion near Quinton killed five workers: Matt Smith of McAlester; Parker Waldridge of Crescent; Roger Cunningham from Seminole; Ray of Fort Worth, Texas; and Risk of Wellington, Colorado. Each family or estate has filed a wrongful death lawsuit. Kevin Carrillo, who survived the explosion but suffered serious injuries, has also filed a lawsuit.

The lawsuits filed by the families of Risk and Ray also allege that a drone was used to capture footage of flares of escaping gas in order to create a video to attract investors to other pending drilling projects.

“Videos were taken of 40′ to 50′ flares capturing what they viewed as a ‘good gas show’ versus a giant red flag waiving from an uncontrolled well,” the lawsuits contend.

Crescent Consulting, an engineering firm which was contracted to oversee the drilling operation, and Patterson-UTI, which was contracted to perform the drilling, also denied wrongdoing.

The federal investigation into the blast is ongoing.

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