In tragic news, Monday’s Oklahoma oil rig blast concluded with five workers being killed in the explosion. The fatality count makes the Oklahoma incident the nation’s deadliest oil and gas accident since 2010’s Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. Investigations into the cause of the blast are still ongoing, and authorities are also looking at the history of the company involved.
Unfortunately, the Houston-based Patterson-UTI Energy Company is no stranger to fatal accidents.
The Patterson-UTI Energy Company was known for one thing during much of the last decade: having one of the worst safety records in the oil and gas industry. In the first 10 years of the new millennium, Patterson-UTI was involved with more fatal accidents than every other energy company in the United States. One report found that there were 12 deaths at the company’s Texas drilling sites from 2003 through 2007 alone. Patterson-UTI was able to slow their accident fatality rate; however, one person was killed at a Patterson-UTI facility in 2010, 2011, and 2012. Additionally, a company rig site in West Texas saw a fatal accident just last year.
This means that in 15 years, Patterson-UTI has been involved in 21 fatalities.
The Deepwater Horizon disaster is known as the worst oil and gas industry accident in America’s history. However, Patterson-UTI has almost doubled the fatality count of Deepwater Horizon in just 15 years.
An Interview with Patterson-UTI CEO
The CEO of Patterson-UTI gave an interview on the Oklahoma explosion, where he declared that the company’s top priority is safety.
When a reporter asked the CEO about the company’s past accidents, the leader had little to say about Patterson’s history. “There have been cases in the past,” the CEO said, “but I think the record shows - certainly in the last few years - we've been one of the safest companies in the industry.”
In response to this fatal accident, a long-time energy analyst based in Houston had this to say, “The industry loses several rigs every year to fire, accidents and explosions," he said. "We usually don't kill five people, though.”