Five workers missing after explosion at Oklahoma gas well
23 January 2018
Five workers were missing after a gas explosion on January 22 at an Oklahoma drilling site operated by Red Mountain Operating Co, local officials said. Twenty-two employees were drilling a gas well at the site when the explosion occurred, and 17 were able to get out safely. One person was flown to a hospital, while others had minor or no injuries, officials said.
Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris said in a press conference that five were still unaccounted for at the well. Images and videos taken by local media show several fires burning and thick black smoke blanketing the facility. The well site is near the town of Quinton, about 140 miles southeast of Oklahoma City.
What exactly happened is not yet known. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating the incident and interviewing employees. Emergency teams worked with rig operators to get the well shut and contained, and the site is now closed pending the investigation.
The new well is owned by Red Mountain Operating, according to a spokesman for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the state's regulatory agency for oil and gas. The well was being drilled by Patterson-UTI Energy.
Patterson-UTI released a statement saying it was "deeply saddened" by the incident.
"Our hearts go out to the families of the five missing individuals, three of whom are Patterson-UTI employees," the statement said. "We've reached out to their families and are providing support during this difficult time. At this moment, no one knows with certainty what happened and it would be unwise to speculate."