Trial begins against company in Oklahoma oil rig explosion

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) — The wrongful death trial against a oilfield equipment contractor in connection with a January 2018 explosion and fire that killed five men in southeastern Oklahoma is underway.

The McAlester News-Capital reports that attorneys for the families of Parker Waldridge of Crescent; Matt Smith of McAlester; Roger Cunningham from Seminole; Josh Ray of Fort Worth, Texas; and Cody Risk of Wellington, Colorado, said in opening statements Tuesday that National Oilwell Varco in primarily to blame for the men's deaths when the rig exploded in Quinton.

Attorneys for the families say NOV was primarily responsible because it failed to provide proper oversight of the operation. and now “refuses any responsibility for this incident.”

Houston-based NOV argues that another company working at the site, Red Mountain Operating, LLC, was at fault and that the company’s employee on site had no responsibilities at the time of the fire and explosion.

The families have reached settlements with Red Mountain Operating; Red Mountain Energy, LLC; Patterson-UTI Drilling Company, LLC; Patterson-UTI Energy Inc.

The Jan. 22, 2018, explosion, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of Tulsa, was the deadliest drilling accident since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, killing 11 people.