Did Drilling Cause a Devastating Well Explosion in Fracking Country?

Texas Tribune reporter Jim Malewitz talks to the Standard about how a well explosion could put pressure on oil and gas regulators.

By Rhonda FanningSeptember 4, 2015 8:00 am| ,

It was like any other day on the Murray ranch in Palo Pinto County.

Ashley Murray was filling a cattle trough when she noticed water spraying from the family pump house. When husband Cody Murray and his father Jim went out to investigate, turning on the pump, a troublesome noise signaled danger to Cody.

He pushed his father out of the way just in time for a ball of flames from the wellhead to overwhelm them. The family, recovering from severe burns, believes that a methane gas buildup from two oil wells nearby caused the blast and filed a lawsuit against Fairway Resources and EOG Resources last month.

Energy reporter Jim Malewitz covered the story for the Texas Tribune. Although fracking is a possible cause of the methane buildup, other oil and gas activities could have been contributing factors to the explosion.

“Actually some of the more recent research that has come out has said that this gas might be linked to poorly constructed wells, gas leaking through cement casing and has cracks or does not go down deep enough to protect the groundwater resources,” says Malewitz.

Since the Texas Railroad Commission has not openly linked any drilling to water contamination, Malewitz says that a win for the Murrays would compel authorities to inspect practices more thoroughly.