What is an Oilfield Blowout and How Can They Be Prevented?
An oilfield blowout is an uncontrolled release of liquid, usually consisting of oil, water, and gas due to built-up pressure in an oil well. There are a series of tools and tactics that can be employed to prevent a blowout, but accidents still occur, causing tremendous potential damage, injury, and loss of life.
How do Oilfield Blowouts Occur?
Oil is a fossil fuel that naturally occurs over millions of years as underwater rock and sediment pressure separates water and carbon components from decaying life forms such as algae and plants. Over the centuries, pockets of oil develop in sedimentary basins where water was once located. Oil companies use enormous drills to reach oil pockets under land or water.
Blowouts can occur at any point during the drilling process. The immense underground hydrostatic pressure or the pressure exerted by a fluid at rest due to the force of gravity, within an oil pocket can be volatile. Drillers counteract the change in pressure as they extract the oil using mud. If the balance of pressure is not managed correctly, liquids can interfere causing a sudden spike in pressure – known as a kick – causing a blowout.
The pressure released during a blowout can cause severe damage to equipment and machinery, creating a cause and effect that can lead to a sudden dangerous situation for oil field workers.
How can Blowouts be Prevented?
The best line of defense in preventing blowouts is to ensure that all oilfield workers are properly trained and exercise an abundance of caution while on site. Site managers should be well versed in identifying the warning signs of a blowout and have the resources to act accordingly. There are a series of blowout prevention tools intended to identify pressure kicks and prevent blowouts including annular seals, rams, and API equipment.
- Annular seals are ring-shaped pieces of equipment that create a liquid-tight seal where the drilling pipe meets the well opening and helps to prevent leaks.
- Rams act as a valve that can help regulate the flow of pressurized liquid and gas in the event of a kick.
- API (American Petroleum Institute) certified equipment sets a standard expectation for the safety of industry operations.
Injured in an Oilfield accident?
When blowouts occur they can potentially leave devastating consequences. Workers caught in the midst of a blowout may sustain catastrophic, life-threatening injuries.
If you are the victim of a blowout, it is important to know your rights and have a team of attorneys who understand the industry ready to fight for you.
Rodriguez & Associates has decades of experience advocating for the rights of injured oilfield workers. Please reach out to our Bakersfield oilfield accident lawyers today to discuss your case and receive support by filling out our online form or calling (661) 323-1400.