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Understanding oil rig blowouts

Posted in Our Blog,Workers Compensation on June 8, 2018

At the Law Office of John W. Redmann, LLC, in Louisiana, we understand the dangers you face every day as an oil rig worker. Oil rigs are dangerous because of the very nature of the work they perform. If and when an accident occurs, the results can be catastrophic for you and your co-workers. Petro-Online explains that while oil rigs do not explode nearly as often as they did in the early days of oil exploration, oil rig blowouts still happen all too frequently.

Millions of years ago, the thick black liquid that is now oil started out as plants and animals. When they died, sediments slowly formed over them. As more and more sediment formed, it became rock. The rock grew heavier and heavier, and the enormous pressure of its weight squeezed all the liquid out of the dead plants and animals underneath, ultimately turning these carbon-based organic substances into oil. Blowouts occur because today’s oil reservoirs remain underneath highly pressurized rock formations. Oil drillers attempt to counterbalance and counteract this pressure by packing mud around the drill and wellbore. Nevertheless, water, gas or oil occasionally infiltrates one or the other. When this happens, it causes the equipment to “kick.” That is the signal to close the well immediately and fix the equipment. Otherwise the crude oil begins to uncontrollably gush out of the well, causing a blowout. If one tiny spark of fire, such as from a cigarette, touches the oil, the entire rig could explode.

Types of blowouts

Blowouts can occur underground, underwater or on the surface. All three types can occur at any time throughout the drilling process. Underground blowouts, however, happen very infrequently, and when they do, the oil may not actually reach the surface. They therefore seldom cause much damage. Surface blowouts are considerably more frequent, but while they usually damage the rig and/or the terrain around it, they seldom injure workers like you.

Underwater blowouts are by far the most catastrophic. Witness the infamous Deepwater Horizon disaster that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. It killed 11 workers and spilled between 3 and 5 million barrels of Louisiana light crude into the Gulf. The oil damaged beaches, wetlands and salt marshes from Texas to Florida, some irreparably. It also killed untold millions of fish and water fowl.

You can receive extremely serious and long-lasting injuries from an oil rig blowout, assuming you survive it at all. Constant vigilance by you and all your co-workers is your best strategy.

For more information, please visit this page on our website.