Oil field tragedy: One dead, one injured in well site explosion

There are 25 comments on the Farmington Daily Times story from Sep 12, 2008, titled Oil field tragedy: One dead, one injured in well site explosion. In it, Farmington Daily Times reports that:

A 21-year-old oil field worker was killed Friday when a nitrogen transfer truck exploded on a new Conoco Phillips well site off state Highway 574, authorities said.

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KylaB

Durango, CO

#1 Sep 13, 2008
My thoughts and prayers go out to all the oilfield workers and their families. As a wife of an oilfield worker, I have such sadness in my heart for what has happened.

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Since: Aug 08

WA State & Farmington, NM

#2 Sep 13, 2008
You are in our prayers!! May you rest in peace. I am so sorry this happened!
Roberta

Albuquerque, NM

#3 Sep 13, 2008
Wow, a total tragedy.
This story that Daily Times never printed is related to this increase of accidents-

http://www.record-eagle.com/business/local_st...
Joonyer

Mesa, AZ

#4 Sep 13, 2008
Here is that article that Roberta gave the website for.

U.S. oilfield deaths rise sharply

SNYDER, Texas (AP)-- Less than two months into the job in the oilfields of West Texas, Brandon Garrett was sliced in half by a motorized spool of steel cable as he and other roughnecks struggled to get a drilling rig up and running.

Garrett's grisly end illustrates yet another soaring cost of America's unquenchable thirst for energy: Deaths among those working the nation's oil and gas fields have risen at an alarming rate, The Associated Press has found.

At least 598 workers died on the job between 2002 and 2007, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. During that period, the number of deaths per year rose by around 70 percent, from 72 victims in 2002 to 125 in 2006 and a preliminary count of 120 in 2007.

The number of people laboring in the nation's oil and gas fields has been soaring as part of a drilling boom that began in 2000-01, but that alone does not appear to explain the rising death toll, since the fatality rate -- that is, the number killed relative to the number of workers -- also climbed during the first half of the decade.

Many of those deaths have happened in Texas, the nation's largest producer of crude oil and natural gas.

Experts blame several factors for pushing the toll ever higher in an industry long considered one of the most dangerous in the nation:

-- A dramatic increase in drilling, spurred by record-breaking oil and natural gas prices. The number of workers in oil and gas jobs shot up from 290,000 in 2002 to 428,000 in 2007. In July 2002, 740 land-based oil and gas rigs were operating in the United States; today, there are about 2,000.

-- An influx of new workers hired to operate all those rigs. Many of the newcomers are young, inexperienced and speak little English.

-- A high-pressure environment where workplace safety lapses are common. Government agencies responsible for enforcing the rules rarely dole out tough penalties.

-- Rampant drug and alcohol use among workers, some of whom turn to methamphetamine to get through 12-hour shifts and labor up to 14 days in a row.

Workers at drilling sites are surrounded by heavy machinery that can kill or maim in an instant. About half the workers who die are struck by equipment or are killed in motor vehicle accidents. Others fall from catwalks, are crushed by falling loads, burned in explosions or become tangled in chains and cables.

"This is a very, very hazardous industry with a very high rate of injuries and fatalities," said Peg Seminario, director of safety and health for the AFL-CIO. "Safety and health problems are not getting the attention they need. With the growing demand for oil and petroleum products, the production pressures are going to increase and the safety and health problems are going to get worse."

Many experienced oilfield workers left the industry in the mid-1980s during the oil bust, when a barrel sold for less than $10. Now, with prices over $100 a barrel, many drilling companies are hiring workers with little or no experience.

"A lot of the rig crews are made up of people who were working at Wal-Mart yesterday. Literally," said Mark Altom of the Woodard, Okla.-based Energy Training Council, a nonprofit organization whose programs are recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Kenny Jordan, executive director of the Association of Energy Service Companies, made up of 750 member companies that service oil wells, said that while even one death is too many, oilfield workers are on the job far more hours than before, and that translates into increased chances of injury or death.
Rick Tsosie

Rio Rancho, NM

#5 Sep 14, 2008
Pretty sobering stats.
These guys who work the oil patch deserve a memorial-shrine dedicated to those who were killed and injured on the job.
Min Arizona

Fort Mohave, AZ

#6 Sep 14, 2008
As the new wife of an oil field worker.... i pray everyday that God keeps all the men safe.
This man that has just passed, was my dear friend who was there for me when my late fiancee past away almost 5 years ago. he will forever be in my heart! I miss you already! your soul and life were to young to go, but your heart was as big as the blue sky and you always used all of it! xoxoxo
Glenda

Bullhead City, AZ

#7 Sep 14, 2008
We will always love you Preston! Much too young to die! You never meet a person that you didn't touch them in some way! Sooo kind, never a BAD word about anyone in the 21 years I knew you!!!! You will be missed- that big old smile of yours is burnt into my head!!!!!
Neal Evans

Fountain Hills, AZ

#8 Sep 14, 2008
The 21 year old was my cousin Preston Mitchem. He was a devout Christian, and a solid hard working American man, with a spirit that couldn't be held down. I never heard him tell a lie, or hurt any persons feelings in the entire 21 years of his life. He is irreplaceable in my life; my family will never be the same, after this trajedy.
Phonecian

Phoenix, AZ

#9 Sep 14, 2008
Rick Tsosie wrote:
Pretty sobering stats.
These guys who work the oil patch deserve a memorial-shrine dedicated to those who were killed and injured on the job.
Fishermen have thier wall of memories. This may be a good idea for those guys out there busting their rear ends. It's the least that the energy companies can do to honor their fallen ones.
inebriate

Albuquerque, NM

#10 Sep 14, 2008
Now i have something to drink about.
john phoenix

Peoria, AZ

#11 Sep 14, 2008
my heart and prayers go out to prestons family and friends. and alot of love goes out to the guys at bj services that tried cpr on him those guys are world class guys. so much love to my bj brothers. keep your heads up.
Danna

Fort Mohave, AZ

#12 Sep 14, 2008
Preston was a very polite, and reseptful young man who would come to my church when he was in town. And was always smiling .You will be sorely missed.My thougts and prayers to the family.
co worker two trucks over

United States

#13 Sep 14, 2008
Neal Evans wrote:
The 21 year old was my cousin Preston Mitchem. He was a devout Christian, and a solid hard working American man, with a spirit that couldn't be held down. I never heard him tell a lie, or hurt any persons feelings in the entire 21 years of his life. He is irreplaceable in my life; my family will never be the same, after this trajedy.
he was a good man he will be missed all our love goes out to you.
co worker two trucks over

United States

#14 Sep 14, 2008
He was happy to work on the pump and do it all by himself he was a good guy very hard working. All my prayers go to his family. He was a very good friend he will be missed!! God needed him home.
ten-eight

Albuquerque, NM

#15 Sep 14, 2008
God bless you and your family Preston. We can all only hope that people will say nice things about us when we leave this earth. You were truly loved and liked by many.
Me in Farmington

Albuquerque, NM

#16 Sep 15, 2008
Being someone very close to the victims in the photo,our hearts and prayers go out to Prestons family and friends. May God be with you in your time of need. God Bless
The Ivies

Rio Rancho, NM

#20 Sep 15, 2008
Preston was our neighbor and though we only knew him for a brief time, we could see so many of the wonderful traits that many others have mentioned. He enjoyed working in his yard and was so excited to see his new grass sprouting up. He will be missed.

To his family, our hearts go out to you all. We pray that you will be comforted during this difficult time. If there's anything you need,we would be honored to help.

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Since: Dec 07

Farmington, NM

#27 Sep 16, 2008
Roberta wrote:
Wow, a total tragedy.
This story that Daily Times never printed is related to this increase of accidents-
http://www.record-eagle.com/business/local_st...
You are mistaken, that story was the front page centerpiece in the 9/11/08 edition, volume 121, issue 042.
Rachelle

Bullhead City, AZ

#28 Sep 17, 2008
Presten was a great guy who was no stranger to work but also no stranger to fun. There will not be a day that goes by that i won't think of him and miss him. RIP until Jesus comes again and we can be together for eternity. Please pray for his family and friends

Since: Sep 08

Farmington, NM

#29 Sep 17, 2008
I am too the wife of an oilfield worker. My father in law, as well as both of my brother in laws work in the field as well. Hearing of these tragedies hits way too close to home for me.

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