Chesapeake Energy OOPS! Blowout in Oklahoma burns down rig.

UPDATE: Chesapeake Energy executive tells conflicting stories about Oklahoma gas well blowout

Nomadic Drill Rig 17 burned to the ground yesterday evening near Sweetwater, Oklahoma when the drill crew hit a pocket of shallow gas.

Witnesses 3/4 of a mile to the north reported hearing a loud “boom” from their residence “and then it sounded like a jet engine was right outside our home”.

When they drove down to the drill site to investigate the well was discharging fluid into the air, soon after that something ignited the gas and the rig  caught fire.

From Drilling Ahead

The gas pocket was at about 900 feet.  “Bar Hoppers (used to increase the mud weight and counter downhole pressures) were not yet rigged up.
Without these blowout prevention devices in place there is little to nothing that can be done to control the well.

Here’s a video. Love the intro.

UPDATE: “An official said the fire could continue until Monday.”  Source

According to residents who live in that area, the flames can still be seen for miles.

About Sharon Wilson

Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.


  1. FrackingCrazy says

    This is so terribly sad,
    what’s worse,
    the half hazard drilling they are doing in Texas neighborhoods.

    • Eagle says

      Sad? Get real people…guess you’re ok with American debt and paying foreigners for oil. Pro Chesapeake = Pro American future. Everything we do is “potentially” dangerous. You’re more likely to have one in your vehicle than on a drilling rig.

      • says

        Are you for real? Do you work for CHK? Did you know they are exporting nearly 20% of our domestic gas? Look, we live where you guy come in and work then leave. You can’t fool us. WE LIVE WITH IT!

        • Anonymous says

          You have to be freaking kidding!! There’s a BIG push to export natural gas in the US, I’ve seen plenty of news about it, do a News search on LNG. The frackers are more interested in making a buck than helping the US be energy independent.

        • says

          By they I mean the industry as a whole and not CHK specifically. On CHK’s Yahoo finance message board, brauman50, used my comment above to discount the entire post although I provide links and documents to substantiate that Gipson did indeed lie. This is the kind of flawed logic we face–not the sharpest knives.

      • Fracked in PA says

        You know, there’s just no response (or excuse) for gasbags like you. Here ya go, you’ll like this idea, why don’t we just solve the national debt problem by letting O&G continue to poison the water, air and land for a few million people in rural communities, then take away their health care. That’ll get ’em outa the way! Then we’ll have lots of money for the rest! Yee-Ha! You’re good with this, right?

  2. says

    If I had the money I would run a national television ad showing this YouTube video asking ” what has natural gas done for you today”? Maybe I could form a Super PAC and raise the money. Hey, it seemed to work in Iowa.
    Hey, dumbass, sorry Eagle if my car has a blowout it does not destroy people’s property and poison the environment. That is one of the dumbest analogies I have read you natural gas employees may yet.
    Are you from China? Maybe that is why you don’t have a full grasp of the English logic. I did read Chesapeake sold 1/3 of it’s Eagle Ford to China.
    Oh I get it Your name=Eagle=Eagle Ford=Cheasepeke=China=selling our natural resource to a foreign country.

  3. Anonymous says

    @Eagle. I’ll tell ya’ what I’m fine with. I’m fine not having these gas wells in my neighborhood. And really???… I’m more likely to have an explosion in my vehicle than on a drilling rig? You are the one who needs to get real! In my 25 years of driving, I’ve never experienced an explosion with my car, but have seen numerous gas well explosions. Additionally, driving my car is a risk I take; but having a gas well in my backyard puts us at the mercy of these roughnecks. It’s simply not a risk I’m willing to take and I’m not buying your “Pro-American” rhetoric.

  4. says

    Look Chesapeake is creating new jobs: re-building the drilling rig, put emergency response teams to work, searchers for those pesky bar hopper, PR machine to spin this and blame it on the fact the US is over regulating the natural gas industry.
    I will forward this video to the University. I am sure some professors in the Environmental department could use this as a teaching tool in some of their lectures.

  5. A Nonny Mouse says

    Hmm, 900′. I wonder where the water table falls in that area. If I remember correctly, the Fort Worth Weekly did an article about a Williams blowout in Grandview, TX. Three families ended up with toluene in their water and some of their animals died. I think I read recently that those families have now settled with Williams and they had to sign non disclosure agreements.

    Oklahoma residents should check their water!

    • Fractingupset says

      If you need a reality check, call up your primary care doctor (or any other doctor as a matter of fact) to see what testing they can order for you once your family is impacted by the cancer causing chemicals.

      How about your state’s health dept, that will be another reality check?! You will quickly find out that the answers to these questions are one of the best kept secrets around!!!!

  6. Choking in ND says

    Looks like North Dakota rigs, we have had our share of explosions that burn workers to death the past few months. The extreme amounts of gases released from these wells are a recipe for disaster, one small spark from a motor and you are living in a war zone. No amount of FR clothing are going to save these guys, burn alive to the bone (4 young ND workers). But of course it is all safe, nothing wrong here. A few good PR ads will ensure the public this is all good and in their best interest.

      • Choking in ND says

        2 died right away, 2 more are still at Ramsey Burn Center, they would have been better off if they had died, sad to say but it was that bad. Happened up here in Sept, a well site, new well owned by Oasis Petroleum. The guys out in the field said they didn’t have a chance, when the rig exploded they caught on fire. Horrible.

  7. Anonymous says

    Well, Aubrey did say that ‘accidents happen’, but was no accident that CHK just signed a deal with the COMMUNISTS and now another one with the French. How ironic that France has outlawed fracking in their own country, but are now investing BILLIONS into fracking US. Maybe because they have seen enough videos like this to know that drilling isn’t safe, and the closer it is to homes, the greater the danger.

    Eagle, you can work out on those rigs all day for all I care, but the part you don’t get is that WE have to live with your ineptitude and short cuts 24/7. You only risk your life when you’re on the rig. You have no right to risk mine in order for you to have a job.

    Maybe you should look into getting a job at a scrap yard, where more and more rigs like this are showing up.

  8. Brown Bess says

    Dear Ed and Carolyn Ireland and Ms. Wilson , please feel free to interpret this e-mail as a rejection of Chesapeake’s intention for all of us all live in their planned industrial park. Resistance is fruitful.

  9. Alma Hasse says


    Thanks for posting this – it is powerful indeed! Here in Idaho (and I suspect in a LOT of other areas of the country), some of these proposed wells are not very far from homes, ranches and churches.

    The risks are far too great! Until such a time as they can PROVE to US that this activity is SAFE, it needs to be banned. PERIOD.


  10. Eric Jellison says

    It’s time to change the hanger on the sign….

    Number of days this worksite has been operating without a loss time work incident: 0

    I just can’t figure out why anyone wouldn’t want this next to their school or home. So perplexing.

  11. Deb Lambert says

    Jim Jones once gave some Kool Aid to a bunch of people and they believed in him so much, they drank it and died. Seems Eagle is drinking some of the Kool Aid that Aubrey McClendon is dishing out, all the while being told, “It’s all Safe. Everything’s fine.”

    Keep drinking the gasser Kool Aid and see where it lands you. These people are liars and they are no less a criminal than Jim Jones for killing people.

  12. says

    Thank god we have Ed Ireland from the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council on our drilling task force on Denton Texas because I am sure he can explain how this explosion is really not what it seems. Come on Chesapeake please send Mr. Ed back to Denton to enlighten us poor heathens here in the gas patch from hell.

    • says

      Maybe we can ask him about it at the next meeting.

      The next voting meeting for the Denton Gas Well Task Force is next Monday,January 9th, 2012, 6PM-8PM, Denton City Council Chambers

  13. GhostBlogger says

    I was going to say that Chesapeake needs to call in Boots & Coots wild well control services. But, Boots & Coots merged with Halliburton. And, we all know Halliburton was involved in the Deepwater Horizon mess. Potential conflict of interest there, if Halliburton butchers a well job somehow, they can call in their Boots & Coots division of Halliburton, & still make money for the corporation at large.

    I like the old days, when Red Adair wasn’t linked to any company. That way he could give honest feed back to prevent future failures.

    Kind of reminds me of when Dr. Romano, Chief of Surgery in the TV series “ER”, had to fix the blunders of a couple of new Residents at the hospital, on a patient, on that show.

  14. says

    Hi Sharon,

    Just saw this article and thought I’d share. It seems like a balanced perspective (I guess), but it’s primarily dealing with the potential for earthquakes caused by fracking. This article was in our local This Land Press (Tulsa, OK). Just thought I’d throw it into the fray. Would love to hear your opinions on this article, since this is kind of “your area.” 😉

    Love the blog, btw. Keep up the good work!

    • A Nonny Mouse says

      I guess I would say that article is fairly balanced until they got to the part where they hold Jim Marston, EDF, up as the icon for the reasonable middle ground. EDF does some good –no doubt–but they are soaked with oil and gas money so they are forced to dance with the ones who brung them.

      • says

        I tend to agree with that assessment, N. Mouse. Also she failed to mention that there is ABSOLUTELY no scientific proof that fracking or even drilling is safe. Sure, industry claims they have a track record of safety for decades but that track is littered with pollution and non disclosure agreements.

        She started out on a roll the hit a chink there at the end.

        I did love the Ed Ireland slap-down and her analysis of industry’s carefully wording.

  15. Dean Marshall says

    This has brightened my day! So glad to see Chesapuke lose another rig! Many happy returns!
    As far as the patri~idiotic comment by Eagle: Get this: The majority of folks I know here in Pa. Marcellus do not want you,your vehicles,rigs,chemicals,and environmental damage any where near! Get the Frack out and go green before we are forced to declare war!

  16. Ex-Oilfielder says

    Sounds to me all of you would like to turn our energy exploration to other country’s. I love to drive my car and set inside my warm house with my lights on. Everything takes a toll lumber, steel,auto manufacturing. Worked in the oil industry many years and yeas I had some friends die on the job and I had some die in a plane crash,car wrecks. Acccidents happen!!!

  17. says

    Work in the oil patch and agriculture my entire life. Both occupation are dangerous. Both oil and Ag are energy one for your body and one for the industrilze world !! If you dont’ want oil or coal to heat your homes and drive your cars. Go Green under the bo admistration but I dont like them cooking the books of reality. Green is not there when it does get there sometime in the far futrue it will be nuclear. Than you will have something else to bitch about when and If there is a melt down and your downwind of the drift . Meanwhilde suck it up your grand pa proably had a right to bitch on D Day YOU dont.

    • says

      Now Tom, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Many of us are already going green. What happens to AG when they use up or contaminate all the water and soil? How healthy can cattle and plants be if they are exposed to bad air. Solar, wind and conservation is the way to go.

  18. Wildcat says

    You anti frac/natural gas people have got to be some of the most ignorant, mis-informed, blatantly wrong group of individuals in America today. Want to know why CHK exports 20% of their natural gas? BECAUSE THERE IS NO MARKET HERE IN THE USA. When was the last time you filled up your car with natural gas? There is a reason why companies like CHK spend millions and millions of dollars creating adds and commercials trying to promote natural gas…..because they would much rather sell it right here! But sadly the only place to sell it right now is places like China. Is a company like CHK concerned with making a buck? OF COURSE. It’s called a business. A business must make money. If it can’t make the money here than it has to make the money somewhere. If you people care to run a business and not make any money, I here places like North Korea and Venezuela will fancy your thinking. With regards to Eagle’s comment comparing rigs and cars burning up…….this is a valid comment. If you actually think that he meant a car just randomly exploding, you my friend are the dumb one. You say you’ve been driving for 25 years and never been in a car that burned up, I say I know people you have been on rigs for 50+ years and never been on rig that burned up or even got hurt. With regards to “There is absolutely no scientific proof that fracking or drilling is safe”……show me the scientific proof that is unsafe. If you had the proof you would be showing it. One last point……the job creation is in the drilling of the well, not the export. I bet you people are also griping about the economy and unemployment rate. That’s mighty fine. Keep griping and push all the rigs out of your area….and see your $3.50 gas go to $5.50.

    Oh and by the way, all those rigs in Western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle aren’t drilling for $3.00 natural gas….they are drilling for crude oil and condensate. You know, the black or yellow stuff that makes everything you own and let’s everything you own run. Go as “green” as you please….you can’t get away from it.

    Dean Marshall, I pray for your soul.

    • says

      Hey Dean,

      I’ve got news for you on that mid-informed accusation: Chesapeake does not export 20% of their natural gas. As I explained in another comment, when I said “they” I meant industry as a whole.

      But thanks for the rant. It made me laugh. And, by all means, feel free to pray for us.

      • Wildcat says

        CHK or the industry as a whole, once again there is no market for big natural gas here in the US. I was simply referencing your first comment. If CHK doesn’t export 20% of their natural gas then how much do they? Is it less?

        And I am not Dean, my prayers are for him for actually wishing rigs be burned to the ground and people get hurt.

        I guess we share a liking for rants that make us laugh…..

        • says

          You probably should read the updates on this event.

          Generally, it seams you think business is more important than people. Since we are people, we generally think people are more important then business.

          Many people are being harmed. I know you don’t want to believe that, which is to your industry’s detriment.

          • Wildcat says

            I have most certainly been keeping up with the updates, including yours. I particularly like the explanation ” a big, gaping hole directly through the High Plains aquifer. The hole is now full of additive laced drilling mud and the newly released shallow gas.” Let’s use what we learned about the comments from Anonymous regarding fluid transfer from high to low pressure (which were factual). In this blowout situation the lowest pressure area is the ATMOSPHERE. As soon as all the gas has burned at surface and the flame is out, that is it. No gas in the aquifer. And the additive laced drilling mud? Try fresh water based drilling fluid with non-contaminating materails (strictly regulated by the state) when drilling the surface hole. And it is not in the aquifer….it is now laying all over the ground ejected from the wellbore (hence the term blowout). And the big, gaping hole? Try 12 1/4″ to 16″. The aquifer is just fine. It is also important to note that in looking at the aquifer map of Roger Mills County, the aquifer is does not emcompass the entire county. As I don’t know the exact location of the rig I cannot speculate if they were even drilling through the aquifer at all.

            The CHK guy lying about surface casing already being set? Unacceptable!

            As I cannot speak for CHK, I cannot speak for their safety culture. I can, however, speak for several others and know that the safety of the men and women doing the work out in the field and ensuring that they go home safely to their families is number one in importance. Period. Yes, people do get hurt. But however hard zero oilfield incidences is to acheive, the good guys strive for it every day.

          • says

            Thanks for your comment Wildcat. You gave me a perfect opportunity to talk about words.

            Look at the trixie language:
            My emphasis:
            “And the additive laced drilling mud? Try fresh water based drilling fluid with non-contaminating materails (strictly regulated by the state) when drilling the surface hole.

            Care to give me a list of those “non-contaminating materials” and when I get off the floor from lauging about the strict Oklahoma regulations, I would be happy to read that list.

            Since there was no hole through the aquifer prior to drilling, and since we do know they drilled through the aquifer because we checked, a 16 inch hole seems pretty gaping to me and I’m sure the water drinkers in the area feel likewise.

            “The aquifer is just fine.” Now let me think, where have I heard that before?

  19. Wildcat says

    No problem. Look up bentonite. Its MSDS sheet can be found anywhere on the internet. Laugh all you want (I’m still laughing at the irony of your “stuck on stupid” phrase) but it’s a fact that you have to drill the surface hole with a fresh water based fluid….I’m sorry…..FRESH WATER MUD. The filter cake created from mud prevents it from entering the aquifer, and as I earlier explained it’s not even in the hole anymore, it’s splattered on the ground.

  20. says

    I am all for alternative fuel. I am not sure if that will be great for the environment either in the long run but at least it would help us be less dependent on other countries oil.

  21. GhostBlogger says

    “When was the last time you filled up your car with natural gas?” Well, there’s the problem. Not many CNG stations around. But, you need more vehicles able to use CNG to increase the demand for CNG stations.

    Then, I see gas futures falling (again). So, is the only way for gas producer to make money is by cutting corners on pollution? A bunch of them won’t even installed vapor recovery system to their operations, that would pay for themselves in a few years.

  22. Lilly says

    Yeah, come to Arlington where we have two daycare centers right across the field from gas drilling operation.

  23. Ivy Legr says

    a bar hopper is not a blow out prevention device – it’s a mixing bowl so to speak. The bar hopper is simply a hopper to mix in heavier additives to help increase mud weight. Without this in place, the driller still has well control as the pressure from their drilling mud in most cases is capable to handle formation pressures to those depths.


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