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What Is a Blowout?

Oil Drilling

When most people imagine an oil field, they probably think of crude shooting hundreds of feet into the air as it did in the 1800s. That phenomenon is called “gushing.” It’s the result of highly pressurized oil and gases forcing themselves into a less pressurized environment. While the days of gushing are largely gone, modern oil drillers more often face accidents called “Blowouts.”

Explaining why blowouts happen requires an understanding of where oil comes from and how it is drilled.

The Origin of Oil

Creating oil takes two things: time and pressure. When prehistoric algae died, it sank. Over time, it was covered up by sediments, rock, and dirt. Over millions of years, those remains were subjected to intense pressure and heat. From that, we get oil and gases.

Untapped oil reservoirs are still under the intense pressure that created them. When oil drills apply too much pressure to the reservoir, the highly compressed oil looks for a way out, and the only way to go is through the drill column.

Drilling Technology

A blowout occurs when drilling exposes underground gases to a lower pressure environment. This causes the gas to surge up, filling as much space as it can. The following eruption of highly pressurized oil and toxic gas at the drill column is called a blowout. With hundreds of gallons of oil and gas covering the area, a single spark can turn an accident into a tragedy.

While drilling technology has come a long way in terms of pressure control and blowout preventers, these accidents still happen. Every year, roughly 200 people die in blowout accidents caused by failed equipment or negligent safety monitoring.

If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries or even wrongful death due to an oil drilling accident, you might have a case. If you’d like an experienced San Antonio oil field accident attorney from The Law Office of George P. Escobedo & Associates, PLLC to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (210) 807-3178.