HOUSTON—An investigation into an explosion at an Oklahoma natural gas drilling rig that killed five workers last year faulted inadequate training and equipment and called for new regulations, the U.S. safety regulator said on June 12.
The Pryor Trust gas well in Pittsburgh County, Okla., was operated by Red Mountain Energy LLC and workers employed by Houston-based drilling contractor Patterson-UTI Energy Inc.
"The lack of effective safety management at this well resulted in a needless catastrophe," said Kristen Kulinowski, interim executive of the Chemical Safety Board.
Workers were not properly trained to monitor for natural gas leaks and had turned off an alarm that could have warned them, the CSB said. Equipment designed to shut gas or oil flow during an emergency also failed, likely because control hoses burned, the CSB said.
Drilling began "without needed planning, equipment, skills, or procedures," the board said.
Patterson-UTI "does not agree with all of the findings" but is reviewing them for "what additional policies, procedures and training could be implemented," a spokeswoman said. The company has reached settlements with the families of the workers killed at the site.
Red Mountain Energy could not be reached for comment. President Tony Say told the Tulsa World newspaper it operated "in accordance with standard industry practice" and said the CSB's findings "were inconsistent with the data we submitted."
The CSB has no regulatory or enforcement authority.
The American Petroleum Institute (API), which develops safety standards for the oil industry, needs to make design changes to better protect workers in driller's cabins and create guidelines on alarm systems, the CSB said.
The API plans to review the CSB's report and consider its recommendations, Vice President Erik Milito said in a statement
Success in those projects would result in its reserve base reaching 3.7 billion barrels over the next seven years and help Woodside expand production by 6% a year over the next decade, the company said.
Output at the largest formation, the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico, is expected to rise 57,000 bbl/d to 4.73 MMbbl/d.
Plans are for the well, which was drilled into two untested fault blocks east of the Cashima Field, to be completed by the end of November, the company said.