West Texas Oil Field Explosion Kills Two
Houston, TX (Law Firm Newswire) August 4, 2014 - Two oil workers were killed in an explosion at an oil well in West Texas.
Amos B. Ortega, 46, and Robert Magdaleno, 41, were killed at a Loving County oilfield on April 30, 2014. Nine other workers were injured. The two deceased were employees of independent contractors of Ameriflow Energy Services for well owner RKI Exploration & Production, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Unfortunately, death and serious injury are not unusual among oil field workers,” said Houston attorney Richard LaGarde, who is not involved in the case. “But we must not simply accept this. Most oilfield explosions are preventable by industry-standard maintenance and safety precautions. It will be up to investigators to determine whether those procedures were properly observed at this well.”
In the weeks following the explosion, its cause remained a mystery to investigators from the Railroad Commission of Texas and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Loving County Sheriff Billy Hopper told the Times he was “dumbfounded” as to what caused the accident, noting that there was no active drilling in progress at the site. He said the individual who first called 911 told the dispatcher that a separator – a device that separates oil from gas as it is pumped – had exploded. But authorities did not find any separators in use at the well. Hopper guessed that a valve had not been closed, which would have allowed gases to build up at high pressure until they exploded through a wellhead.
Loving County is sparsely populated, with some 80 residents, but it contains more than 3,500 oil and natural gas wells. The deaths of Ortega and Magdaleno are the sixth and seventh fatalities of oil workers in the county since 2006.
“As the Houston Chronicle recently reported, the rate of oil field deaths nationwide has risen sharply in recent years,” LaGarde added. “And nearly half of those occur in Texas. We can and should do better.”
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