More testimony is heard in lawsuits over deadly well fire

Houston’s National Oilwell Varco continues putting on witnesses in defense of lawsuits filed over the January 2018 well explosion and fire that killed 5 workers at a gas rig site near Quinton, Oklahoma.

The trial started earlier in the month in Pittsburg County District Court in McAlester.

Here is how the McAlester News Capital reported the testimony of one expert in support of National Oilwell Varco:

An engineer with more than 50 years of oilfield experience testified as National Oilwell Varco’s expert witness in the civil trial ongoing at the Pittsburg County Courthouse in McAlester.

Dr. Gary Wooley, who holds a Ph.D in Engineering Science and Mechanics, told jurors in District 18 District Judge Mike Hogan’s Pittsburg County courtroom that he did not believe mud weight played a role in the Jan. 22, 2018 gas well fire that killed five men near Quinton.

Wooley said he was hired by NOV shortly after the incident occurred to help the company understand what happened and said he viewed thousands of documents and reviewed more than two dozen video dispositions in his investigation for NOV.

He said the blowout could have been prevented if the blowout preventer was closed and that the driller had “multiple opportunities” to close the BOP prior to the blowout.

Dr. Wooley said “lots of data shows” at around 2 a.m. the morning of the blowout, the drill pipe became plugged with a pill, a mixed substance used by the drilling industry, which caused suction to form below the pipe and the well to flow.

When the drill pipe was being removed from the well bore, Wooley said, the drill pipe was pulled out too quickly and the operation should have been slowed down due to the plugged drill pipe and that decision to continue to pull the pipe at the rate the workers were going was up to the Red Mountain company man.

“NOV has nothing to do with this,” Wooley said when asked if NOV’s mud engineer had any say in the rate at which the drill pipe was removed.

Wooley said data from the well recording system showed that the BOP was opened at 7:57 a.m. prior to the blowout and an increase in mud gains began.

“The BOP should have been immediately closed,” said Wooley.

The data then showed the recorder was reset to zero and continued to show a loss, which Wooley said was another opportunity for the BOP to be closed.

Between 7:57 a.m. and 8:37 a.m., the time of the blowout, the recorder showed 120 barrels of mud was lost.

“That’s what a blowout looks like,” said Wooley. The man said he would have liked to know what the conversation was between the company man and the driller because it “should have been obvious” what was going on.

Jurors also heard from the tool pusher, Tony Thompson, who said he checked a gauge that said the well pressure was zero before giving the thumbs up to the driller to open the BOP and that there was no indication the well was going to blowout at that time.

Thompson said seconds after the driller said he was going to close the BOP, a burp happened and “in a blink of an eye the whole rig was on fire.”

Josh Haeer, who received a hug from Thompson before his testimony, was the night shift floor hand on the Patterson 219 rig and told jurors that the night company man did not want to weigh up the well before tripping out due it taking too much time.

Source: McAlester News Capital

%d bloggers like this: