Rig Explosion

The Patterson 219 rig exploded and caught fire on Jan. 22, leaving five workers dead.

Attorneys accuse the well operator at the Quinton explosion that left five men dead of using lighter mud for financial gain.

An amended petition in a lawsuit stemming from the Jan. 22, 2018 explosion at the Patterson 219 rig in Quinton claims the well operator, Red Mountain Energy, ignored recommendations to use a heavier mud weight ­— instead using a lighter mud weight for a “hype” video to entice potential investors.

Court documents state the plaintiffs seek damages of 25 percent of Red Mountain, Crescent Consulting, National Oilwell Varco, and Patterson’s net worth.

Five workers died in the incident, including Matt Smith, 29, of McAlester, Oklahoma; Josh Ray, 35, of Fort Worth, Texas; Cody Risk, 26, of Wellington, Colorado; Parker Waldridge, 60, of Crescent, Oklahoma; and Roger Cunningham, 55, of Seminole, Oklahoma.

The amended petition was filed Oct. 8 in Pittsburg County District Court by attorneys representing the estate of Cody Risk.

Attorneys list 34 off-set wells drilled in Pittsburg County that allegedly used “mud weights much greater than the mud weight” used at the site of the explosion, according to court documents.

Lawyers allege Red Mountain and Crescent ignored recommendations from several consultants to use a greater mud weight at the site. Court documents state Red Mountain instead used a lighter mud weight in order to save money and for marketing purposes as “choosing a mud weight that is lighter saves money.”

The petition states the lighter mud weight allows gas to flow into the well bore and lead to fire, which some record for videos as marketing bait for investors.

Attorneys alleged Red Mountain “used drone footage mixed with music to ‘hype’ and market the project” with footage of fire flaring as high as 50 feet.

Red Mountain also contracted National Oilwell Varco, which “recommended much heavier mud weights than Red Mountain chose to drill with in the well in question,” court documents state.

The mud weight while crews were tripping out the well was 8.1-8.2 pounds per gallon, according to court documents. Attorneys allege six mud companies recommended mud weight of at least 9.0 ppg and NOV recommended a mud weight of 8.8-9.1 ppg.

Attorneys bring the following causes of action against Red Mountain: negligence, negligence per se, gross negligence, premise liability, failure to train employees and company men, failure to supervise the drilling operation, failure to provide rules and regulations, failure to furnish safe instruments, strict liability for ultra hazardous activities, breach of contract.

The petition lists the following causes of action against Crescent Consulting, CVM Holdings and CVM Management: negligence, negligence per se, and gross negligence.

Attorneys also accuse Jim Brody Blagg, B&B DRLG Consulting, and NOV of negligence, court documents state.

Patterson-UTI Energy, Patterson-UTI Management Services, and Patterson-UTI Drilling Co. are accused of negligence and gross negligence.

U.S. Chemical Safety Board officials confirmed in August that the blowout occurred shortly after an operation called “tripping” — in which workers remove the drill pipe from the well bore. The Chemical Safety Board expects to complete its investigation within 12-18 months of the incident date.

Documents show Red Mountain Energy, LLC, held the lease, and Red Mountain Operating, LLC, operated the well. RMO entered a drilling contract with Patterson-UTI Drilling Company, LLC, and Patterson Rig 219 drilled the well — which was set to reach a true vertical depth of 7,615 feet and a measured depth of 17,799 feet. Workers stopped drilling on Jan. 21 to trip out the pipe and Patterson crew members turned on the mud pumps at 8:09 a.m., according to the CSB report.

The CSB report states the mud pits gained 107 barrels of mud between 7:57 a.m. and 8:35 a.m. CSB officials said the gain is an indication of gas influx and most companies have automatic alarm systems for mud gains of 5-10 barrels.

A Patterson employee saw mud flowing out of the open blowout preventer stack at 8:35 a.m., one minute before mud blew up out of the well and ignited to set the rig ablaze, according to the CSB report.

Two workers unsuccessfully tried to close the blowout preventer before a well control services company and RMO personnel manually closed the BOP blind rams and stopped the fire at 4 p.m., the report states.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Patterson-UTI Drilling, Crescent Consulting LLC, and Skyline Directional Drilling LLC for “exposing employees to fire and explosion hazards” in the Jan. 22 incident.

OSHA documents cited all three companies for failing to ensure heat lamps in use were approved for hazardous locations. The federal agency also cited Patterson-UTI and Crescent Consulting for “failing to maintain proper controls while drilling a well, inspect slow descent devices, and implement emergency response plans.”

Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com

Contact Adrian O'Hanlon III by email at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com or on Twitter at @aohanlon3.

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