BSEE Urges Stand-Down by Offshore Platform Crews

Releasing its report on the November 2012 explosion on a Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations platform, killing three workers, the agency’s director also has asked the American Petroleum Institute to issue standards for hot work that follow industry best practices.

The federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement called Nov. 4 for a safety stand-down by offshore oil and gas platforms' crews to discuss the lessons from the Nov. 16, 2012 explosion and fire on a Gulf of Mexico platform, WD 32 E, operated by Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations. Ellroy Corporal, Jerome Malagapo, and Avelino Tajonera died, and several other workers were hurt. BSEE and the U.S. Coast Guard personnel made up the investigative panel whose report was released Nov. 4.

The explosion occurred during construction, not while oil and gas were being produced, BSEE Director Brian Salerno pointed out, adding that decisions, actions, and failures by Black Elk and its contractors caused it. "These failures reflect a disregard for the safety of workers on the platform and are the antithesis of the type of safety culture that should guide decision-making in all offshore oil and gas operations," he said.

The agency announced it intends to take appropriate enforcement actions.

Salerno and the investigative panel asked that all operators with personnel at manned offshore facilities examine the report and then hold a stand-down before the end of the year to discuss what caused the explosion and to ensure their operations are safe. He has asked the American Petroleum Institute to issuing hot work standards that follow industry.

Salerno issued a statement saying in part, "BSEE took action to require Black Elk to improve its safety performance, under threat of disqualification from operations on the Outer Continental Shelf. Over the past year and under the close review of BSEE's Gulf of Mexico Region, Black Elk has made safety improvements and has implemented changes to its oversight processes. Black Elk remains under a performance improvement plan and BSEE will continue its enhanced oversight to ensure that these improvements are continued and meaningfully implemented across all of Black Elk's operations."

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