Working in an oilfield is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. As drilling on shales in Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and North Dakota has increased, the number of oilfield deaths and oilfield injuries continues to rise dramatically each year. With Texas ranking as the largest producer of crude oil and natural gas in the country, injuries and deaths occur all too often in the Permian Basin and the Eagle Ford Shale, and at other shale plays around Texas.
Eagle Ford Shale
The Eagle Ford Shale covers over 11,000 square miles in South Texas, and is the largest American oilfield discovery in the last 40 years. It is also the most active shale play, or oil and gas formation, in the world. The shale produces over 4,000 barrels of oil per day, and this level of production is expected to last and/or increase for many years to come.
As companies race to extract oil down in South Texas, almost 40,000 new jobs have been created in previously under-populated areas. While more jobs and more economic activity are great for Texas, oilfield accidents and motor vehicle accidents in the area have skyrocketed due to problems ranging from lack of training and supervision to poor rural infrastructure not designed for the large influx of commercial vehicles.
Working with industrial equipment and flammable materials can cause devastating consequences not only for the environment, but also for the oilfield workers themselves. Some of the most common oilfield accidents involve oil well fires, oil platform falls, burn injuries from explosions, amputation injuries, and crush injuries from falling heavy loads.
In addition to the Texas oil and gas renaissance, North Dakota has also become a hotbed of drilling activity. The Bakken Shale formation is in eastern Montana and western North Dakota, and began producing oil in 1953. Production remained sporadic and limited due to the way the land in the area formed. Only recently have new drilling technologies including horizontal drilling made the larger development of the upper Bakken Shale possible. Some estimates contend that the Bakken Shale contains between 10 and 400 billion barrels of oil.
With increased commercial truck traffic, unsafe drilling practices, and even recent train derailments, the safety of extracting and hauling crude oil has been called into question. The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued safety alerts declaring that the crude oil extracted from the Bakken Shale, while a more highly valued commodity, is also highly volatile and extra care must be taken in its extraction and transportation.
We Can Help
Arnold & Itkin has successfully tried multiple oilfield and oil refinery injury and death cases across the country, including claims related to burns, toxic exposure, crush injuries, and spinal cord injuries. Our trial attorneys represent injured oilfield workers in the Bakken Shale and Eagle Ford Shale.