Blistering temperatures throughout the state have forced oil and gas companies to adjust their operations to keep employees and contractors safe.
The thermometer topped out as high as 114 Thursday in the western Oklahoma oil fields, where safety regulations require that crews wear long-sleeved and long-pant flame-retardant clothing, heavy steel-toed boots and hard hats at all times when outside at a well site.
“This extreme heat is very dangerous to our crews on the rigs,” said John H. Cromling, executive vice president of Tulsa-based Unit Drilling.
Training is the most important step, he said. Oil-field crews are taught how to stay safe in the heat and how to recognize the signs of overheating.
Crews are taught to go to work hydrated by avoiding alcohol or energy drinks the night before and by drinking up to 32 ounces of water every hour. Most companies also provide water on site and require frequent breaks when temperatures soar.
“We learned many valuable lessons last summer to help prepare us for this summer,” Cromling said. “In all my years of working rigs, these two summers have been the most critical.”
Houston-based Apache Corp. has placed cooling trailers with misters and water on site at many of its rig locations throughout western Oklahoma.
“When they get hot, they can shut down the rig and cool off,” Larry J. Bledsoe, Apache's district production manager in Elk City, said of the workover rig crews he supervises. “There's no limit or time requirement. They just need to do what it takes to stay healthy.”
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