Almost a full year after five men were killed in an oil field explosion outside of Quinton, Oklahoma, the family of one of the men who died has filed a lawsuit against the oil well’s operator, accusing them of putting profits over people and trying to save money by using a drilling method that put the men at risk, and ultimately cost them their lives.
The company named in the oil field explosion lawsuit is Red Mountain, the owner and operator of the well where 35-year-old Josh Ray, 29-year-old Matthew Smith, 26-year-old Cody Risk, 60-year-old Parker Waldridge and 55-year-old Roger Cunningham were killed on the job. All five died of burns and smoke inhalation and were found in the area where they were last seen working, indicating that they had no time for escape after the fire started following an uncontrolled release of gas that caught fire.
Family Claims Cost Savings Drove Risky Decisions That Led to Oil Field Explosion
The lawsuit filed by family members is accusing Red Mountain, owner and operator of the well, of having chosen to use a drilling mud that was significantly lighter than what other operators running similar wells had chosen. They say that the decision was made in order to save money and make the company’s bottom line more appealing for investors.
"This suit arises out of yet another tragic preventable incident caused by irresponsible companies working in the oilfield who place money and profit over safety and human life."
According to the families, “This suit arises out of yet another tragic preventable incident caused by irresponsible companies working in the oilfield who place money and profit over safety and human life.” Incredibly, however, Red Mountain chose to ignore the proven and successful drilling programs of those same ‘off-set wells’ when they prepared the drilling program for the Pryor Well in question. Rather than preparing a drilling program with the mud weight proven to be safe and effective in dozens and dozens of other Woodford Wells, Red Mountain chose to use a significantly lighter mud weight that was cheaper and ineffective to control the well.
Unconscionably, for the five men who lost their lives, Red Mountain cared more about its investors’ money than the safety of the men who were drilling this well.” The suit also claims that the person who made the decision to use the lighter mud weight and who was acting as drilling engineer did not have his Oklahoma license.