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Answers, Not Excuses, Demanded Following Deadly Oklahoma Rig Explosion

Monday’s blowout near Quinton, Oklahoma, that killed five workers is the deadliest oil and gas incident since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. As this incident moves from the recovery of the victims to the cleanup and investigation stage, the largely self-regulated energy industry must use this tragedy as a signal to self-reflect and take stock of their safety procedures.

“When it comes to rig blowouts, somebody made a mistake,” says trial lawyer Frank Branson of The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson, who has handled numerous oilfield tragedies, including involvement in a 2015 onshore rig explosion where three men died in a well blowout near Midland, Texas.

“Every driller and operator knows that well control must be maintained at all times. That’s rule number one on these rigs. A failure to control the well is inexcusable and absolutely preventable. With so much at stake, companies like Patterson-UTI and Red Mountain Energy must make worker safety – not shareholder profits – the overriding priority.

“Patterson-UTI, one of the largest onshore rig operators in the U.S., has been called out for its safety shortcomings by name in Congressional reports and has been fined by OSHA following earlier oil and gas well fatalities. As the families of those killed search for answers, it’s clear that relatively toothless regulations are not enough to ensure the safety of hardworking oilfield workers. In cases like these, American jurors will be called upon to determine who was at fault and return a verdict that will make sure these companies put worker safety first.”