Oil and Gas History of Kentucky
While most people don't think of Kentucky as a major energy production hub, the state has a growing oil and natural gas industry. Production didn’t take off until 1919, when oil was found near Pellville, Kentucky. This strike prompted the boom of oil production in Western Kentucky.
As more people from across the United States got word of Kentucky’s vast energy resources, many migrated to the state with dreams of buying oil-rich land. Since 2009, at least 165,000 wells have been drilled in Kentucky for production purposes, according to the Kentucky Division of Oil and Gas.
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Kentucky Energy Quick Facts
- Kentucky is the 7th largest coal-producing state in America, with approximately 1 in 6 operating coal mines located in Kentucky (more than any other state except West Virginia and Pennsylvania).
- Kentucky's 1 oil refinery, Catlettsburg Refinery, can process nearly 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day. It is the 15th-largest oil refinery that provides more than 1.5% of the nation's total refining capacity.
- In 2021, about 71% of Kentucky's electricity generation was derived from coal, the 4th-largest share of any U.S. state following West Virginia, Missouri, and Wyoming.
- Kentucky has 22 underground natural gas storage sites that can hold almost 222 billion cubic feet of gas, equal to about 2% of the country's total underground storage capacity.
- In 2021, Kentucky had the 12th-lowest average price for electricity of any state and the 2nd-lowest price for a state east of the Mississippi River. More than half of all households in Kentucky use electricity for their heating.
How Big is the Catlettsburg Refinery?
The Catlettsburg Oil Refinery was built in 1916 by the Great Eastern Refining Company and purchased in 1924 by the Ashland Refining Company. Catlettsburg currently occupies a 650+ acre site, produces over 291,000 barrels per day, and employs about 1,600 workers and contractors.
Common Causes of Injury in the Oil and Gas Industry
Asphyxiation accounts for a surprising number of fatalities at oil and natural gas job sites. Well gases, vapors, and volatile compounds can emanate from the well or other sources (i.e. combustion engines). Most of these gases are heavier than air and therefore settle in low spots around the well.
Methane, which is lighter than air, rises and must be avoided when working above open tanks and hatches. The accumulation of gases, vapors, and volatile compounds in confined areas can lead to asphyxiation, resulting in quick unconsciousness followed by death if oxygen is not restored quickly.
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Fossil Fuels: A Legacy of Disaster
Employees in the fossil fuel extraction industry pay a high price for our nation's reliance on these energy sources. Each year, men and women who work coal mines, natural gas fields, and oil rigs and refineries suffer major injuries and even lose their lives to provide the fossil fuels that drive our economy.
In April 2010 alone, for example, 29 coal miners died at the Massey mine explosion in West Virginia, 2 miners lost their lives at a western Kentucky mine accident, and 11 workers perished in the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Oil workers pay a particularly large price for our dependence on oil. Since 1968, there have been at least 77 fatalities and 7,550 injuries at onshore and offshore oil production facilities, according to the Department of Labor.
Natural Gas Casualties
Natural gas, which has long been touted as a safer alternative to coal and oil, has caused accidents resulting in at least 892 deaths and 6,258 injuries since 1970, according to the Detroit Free Press. There were at least 2,554 significant oil and gas pipeline accidents nationwide that caused 161 deaths and 576 injuries between 2001 and 2011 alone.
Is Your Employer Responsible for Your Accident?
While the dangers of working in an oil or gas field are well known, this does not mean that injured workers have no legal recourse. Employers in the oil and gas industry are responsible for providing a safe working environment for their employees. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other government entities require safe practices, well-maintained equipment, and proper crew training for all oil field work.
Oil field injury law is complex. Depending on several important factors, different paths might be available to you to seek compensation for your injuries or the death of a loved one. You may need a knowledgeable and experienced team of oil field accident lawyers to guide you through your options.
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Get a Free Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Kentucky Oil Field Accident and Injury Lawyers
The personal injury lawyers at Schmidt & Clark, LLP have experience dealing with the rights of American oilfield workers, and we are one of the only firms willing to handle oilfield workplace accidents in Kentucky and throughout the entire United States.
Again, if you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an oilfield accident in Kentucky, you should contact our oil field accident lawyers immediately by using the form below or calling our law firm toll-free 24 hrs/day by dialing (866) 588-0600 to schedule a free case review and legal options.
Clients may be able to recover fair compensation for medical expenses from an oil company in a lawsuit and a personal injury lawyer can help.