Black Elk Failures behind Offshore Platform Explosion
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) released its panel investigation report into the November 16, 2012 explosion and fire that occurred on a platform operated by Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations. The explosion and fire resulted in the tragic deaths of Ellroy Corporal, Jerome Malagapo and Avelino Tajonera, serious injuries to others and the discharge of pollutants into the Gulf of Mexico.
The investigation panel, comprised of professionals from BSEE and the United States Coast Guard, found these deaths were caused by a number of decisions, actions and failures by Black Elk and contractors retained by Black Elk while conducting construction operations. “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,” said BSEE Director Brian Salerno. The report concludes that BSEE safety regulations were not followed, and accordingly BSEE will proceed with appropriate enforcement actions.
Based on the findings and recommendations of the panel that operators conduct a "safety stand down," Director Salerno strongly requests that all operators with personnel at manned offshore facilities take this opportunity before the end of the year to discuss the events that led to this explosion and to ensure their operations are safe. A safety stand down uses real world examples to illustrate the potentially tragic consequences that can result from the failure to consider safety.
In addition to the safety stand down, Director Salerno has requested that the American Petroleum Institute assist BSEE in improving safety by issuing standards for "hot work" that are consistent with the industry's best practices. This would help to ensure that there is consistency across the offshore community while increasing communication within industry on this important topic.