OSHA is currently investigating an oilfield accident that seriously injured Fernando Munoz last Wednesday. Mr. Munoz was working in the derricks when a well blowout occurred. He was trapped in the derricks for approximately an hour before he could be rescued. Mr. Munoz was working on a rig operated by Arrow Drilling Company at the time of the oilfield accident. The cause of the blowout is not known at this time, but company officials say it was an unexpected event considering the depths that they were drilling at the time of the blowout. The rig is back in operation following the blowout. Mr. Munoz’s condition is unknown at this time.
There are a few common causes of well blowouts, such as improper mud weight, failing to keep the hole full while tripping pipe, and lost circulation. Drilling rigs typically have choke manifolds and blow out preventers to address these potential problems. It will be interesting to see if OSHA determines the cause of this oilfield accident to be faulty equipment or just bad luck. One thing is certain, oilfield work remains very dangerous, as evidenced by Mr. Munoz’s injuries. Tough company and OSHA safety standards are necessary to keep these types of incidents to a minimum.