One can only hope. The Lone Star State has a long history of oil drilling, and with that comes an extensive list of reported blowout and well control issues. In fact, the Railroad Commission of Texas has records stretching back to 1936.
It’s important to note that the deadly Chesapeake Energy blowout has a uniquely high fatality rate. The vast majority of oil blowouts do not have any reported deaths, injuries, or resulting explosions.
However, the commonplace acceptance of blowouts and the occasionally high rate of injuries and deaths calls for new safety regulations within the entire energy industry. As the Houston Chronicle noted, the Chemical Safety Board reported Patterson-UTI Energy “planned poorly and cut corners…including a failed blowout preventer, a muted alarm system, lapses in well monitoring, inadequate employee training and not enough emergency exits.”
Most notably, fatal accidents in the oil industry are quickly forgotten by lawmakers and regulators. While the Chesapeake Energy blowout will be remembered for the deaths of three contract workers, some hold out hope that it may also spur advances in safety regulations that will prevent future accidents of this kind.
Caitlin Ritchie is a writer within the energy and power industry. Born in Georgia, she attended the University of Georgia before earning her master’s in English at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.