Roughneck News

More Than $9 Million In Penalties For Fatal 2012 Rig Fire

February 24, 2017

Source: UPI

Two rig workers died after a fire broke out on a rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

A supply boat, lower left, passes an oil production platform in the Gulf of Mexico May 26, 2010. Offshore oil production and drilling structures dot the Louisiana coastline. UPI/A.J. Sisco..Oilfield services company Wood Group agreed to pay $9.5 million in penalties related to a deadly 2012 offshore platform fire, the Justice Department said.

"Developing domestic sources of energy is of vital importance to our nation," Christopher R. Brooks, special agent in charge of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's criminal enforcement program in Louisiana, said in a statement. "This development must be done responsibly and safely to protect public health and the environment."

Two of the 24 rig workers on a platform operated by Black Elk Energy died in a late 2012 accident off the coast of Louisiana. The company said the incident occurred during a "construction project" and investigators said later that rig workers cut into a pipeline on the platform that had oil inside, sparking a blaze.

Court documents show Black Elk contracted with Wood Group to secure personnel to man operations at the West Delta 32 production platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

The U.S. Justice Department said Wood Group, in a plea agreement, admitted that it failed to inspect and maintain the facilities appropriately, claimed falsely that environmental regulations were followed and had trouble in general keeping its inspection records in order.

"The office did not have sufficient labor and transportation, and the work was not always completed on time," the Justice Department stated. "The company admitted to 87 violations on offshore platforms."

The platform was not in service at the time of the explosion and only minor sheen was reported after the incident. Black Elk determined that less than 1 barrel of oil spilled from the platform.

Black Elk and Grand Isle Shipyards, which assigned workers to perform the welding, face manslaughter charges in connection with the incident.

Black Elk is moving through Chapter 11 bankruptcy. None of the other parties to the incident charged by the U.S. government had public statements available.

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