Explosion and fire on Gulf platform occurred during welding;
Contractors failed to follow standard safety practices
HOUSTON, Aug. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — An explosion and fire during a construction project last November on a Gulf of Mexico oil production platform operated by Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations, LLC occurred after contractors failed to follow standard safety practices, a third-party investigator has concluded. The platform is located at West Delta 32 Block in the Gulf of Mexico, 17 miles south east of Grand Isle, La.
After a thorough eight-month investigation, ABSG Consulting found that, while production was shut in, workers welded on piping that was connected to a tank containing crude oil and flammable oil vapors without following Black Elk Energy’s safety practices.
A global leader in safety and risk management, ABSG was retained by Black Elk Energy to investigate the November 16, 2012 incident that resulted in the deaths of three workers and injuries to others. ABSG performed an extensive investigation to determine the causes of the accident, coordinated its investigation with the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), and provided recommendations to prevent a similar incident in the future.
“The victims of this tragic accident last November are always in our thoughts and prayers,” said John Hoffman, Black Elk’s President and CEO. “We owe it to them and their families to understand how this accident happened. With this ABSG report, I am confident we now know the causes of this tragedy and how to prevent such an accident from ever happening again.”
ABSG found that:
-- On the day of the incident, workers were welding a flange on open piping leading to an oil tank that contained flammable vapors. The piping leading to the tank had not been isolated and made safe for welding activities as required by Black Elk Energy safe work practices. -- Flammable vapors in the piping ignited and within seconds reached the first oil tank and then two connected tanks.
Black Elk Energy contracted with Grand Isle Shipyard to perform the construction work. Although Grand Isle committed in its contract to not use subcontractors on Black Elk Energy projects, all of the workers performing the welding involved in the incident were employed by DNR Offshore and Crewing Services, a subcontractor of Grand Isle. ABSG determined that use of the DNR Offshore subcontractor without notifying Black Elk Energy was one of several causes of the incident. ABSG also determined other causes were that Grand Isle and DNR Offshore employees failed to adequately follow safe work practices for performing welding and failed to stop work when unsafe conditions existed. The workers involved in the incident were from the Philippines. “Filipino offshore oil workers have a deserved reputation for competence and professionalism,” Hoffman said. “A serious issue in this case was Grand Isle’s apparent failure to provide proper safety training and appropriate supervision.”
In conducting its investigation, ABSG reviewed thousands of pages of documents and records; collected and preserved physical evidence from the platform; performed fire and explosion modeling of the incident; and utilized industry-accepted causal analysis methodologies to determine the causes of the incident.
“Over the past eight months we have worked to provide support for the victims and their families and cooperated with government officials to analyze the causes of the incident and to implement policy and procedural improvements to minimize the risk of similar incidents in the future,” Hoffman said.
ABSG Consulting issued its report to BSEE and Black Elk Energy; it is available at: http://www.blackelkenergy.com/images/documents/Investigation-of-WD-32-Platform-Explosions-on-11-16-12.pdf
About Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations, LLC
Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations, LLC (www.blackelkenergy.com) is an independent oil and gas company headquartered in Houston, Texas. Our team of professionals is dedicated to performing to the highest industry safety standards, operating within and beyond the requirements of the regulations, and maintaining its stance as a good corporate citizen. The Company’s seasoned industry executives have extensive oil exploitation experience and knowledge with a unique demonstrated track record of increasing reserves and production.
Safe Harbor Statement
This press release may contain certain “forward-looking statements” relating to the business of Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations, LLC (“Black Elk Energy”) and its subsidiary companies. All statements, other than statements of historical fact included herein are “forward-looking statements.” These forward-looking statements are often identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “believes,” “expects” or similar expressions, and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties. Although Black Elk Energy believes that the expectations reflected in these forward-looking statements are reasonable, they do involve assumptions, risks and uncertainties, and these expectations may prove to be incorrect. Investors should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this press release. Black Elk Energy’s actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of a variety of factors, including those discussed in Black Elk Energy’s periodic reports that are filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and available on its website at www.sec.gov. All forward-looking statements attributable to Black Elk Energy or persons acting on its behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by these factors. Other than as required under the securities laws, Black Elk Energy does not assume a duty to update these forward-looking statements.
SOURCE Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations, LLC