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OSHA News Release – Region 6
U.S. Department of Labor
Region 6 News Release: USDL-OSHA-99-51-4-23
Friday, April 23, 1999
Contact: Diana Petterson or Beverly Sepulveda
PHONE : (214) 767-4776, ext. 222 or 221
OSHA PROPOSES $207,750 PENALTY AGAINST THREE OIL AND GAS COMPANIES SERVICING A WELL NEAR BRYCELAND, LA.
Cudd Pressure Controls, Inc., Oklahoma City, Okla.; Sonat Exploration Co., Houston, Texas and Brooks Well Servicing, Inc., College Station, Texas
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited three oil and gas servicing companies for safety violations at a gas well near Bryceland, La., where seven employees were fatally burned. The proposed penalties total $208,750, announced the U.S. Department of Labor.
"Cudd and Sonat knowingly exposed their employees to hazards by not taking additional safety measures to safeguard their lives and as a consequence, seven workers lost their lives," said OSHA Baton Rouge Area Director Robert D. Holmes. "Workers should not have to risk losing their lives when they come to work."
Cudd Pressure Controls, Inc. of Oklahoma City, Okla., contracted by Sonat Exploration Co. to perform the snubbing operating of a natural gas well (Otto Cummings #2), had four employees who were killed and was cited for $125,000. Sonat Exploration Co. of Houston, Texas, the operator of the natural gas well, was cited for $77,000 and Brooks Well Servicing, Inc. of College Station, Texas, the provider of the well servicing rig, had five employees working at the site, three of whom died as a result of the accident, was cited for $6,750.
The OSHA investigation began in response to a fire and explosion that occurred on Oct. 24, 1998, when seven employees were fatally burned and/or injured while attempting to push a 23 foot long pipe into a pressurized gas well. OSHA alleges that Cudd Pressure Controls and Sonat Exploration were negligent in providing specific and adequate methods of prompt emergency escape from the work basket of a rig-assisted space-saver type hydraulic snubbing unit.
Additionally, Cudd did not perform the necessary calculations to determine the imposed forces and applied stresses to the pipe section that was being pushed or snubbed into the hole. The forces exerted on the pipe caused it to buckle resulting in it being ejected out of the well by the natural gas pressure causing a blowout and subsequent explosion and fire.
Cudd was cited for two willful violations and Sonat was cited for one willful and one serious violation. A willful violation is defined as an intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Sonat's serious violation and Brooks Well Servicing two serious violations were also for not providing prompt emergency escape from the work basket.
Each company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the area director to discuss the citations or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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