NEW ORLEANS (AP) – A federal agency told a Texas-based oil production company Wednesday it needs to improve safety at its offshore operations, days after a deadly explosion and fire on one of its platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said Wednesday that Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations has been cited numerous times for incidents in which it failed to comply with regulations.
The bureau noted Friday’s fire and an October 2011 incident where use of an acid-based chemical resulted in the hospitalization of six workers. Another 2010 violation resulted in a $307,000 fine.
“Black Elk has repeatedly failed to operate in a manner that is consistent with federal regulations,” BSEE Director James A. Watson said in a news release. “BSEE has taken a number of enforcement actions, including issuing numerous Incidents of Non Compliance (INC’s), levying civil penalties and calling in the company’s senior leadership to review their performance and the ramifications of failing to improve.”
The bureau’s letter to Black Elk CEO John Hoffman said failure to improve overall performance could lead to steps including revocation of the company’s authorization to operate its offshore facilities. Black Elk’s website says it has an interest in 155 offshore platforms.
The body of one worker killed in Friday’s accident was recovered over the weekend. The search was called off Tuesday for another worker missing since the fire. Four people were hospitalized for serious burns after the accident. The cause of the accident is under investigation.
“We appreciate the perspective of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement,” Black Elk spokeswoman Leslie Hoffman said in an emailed response to a request for comment. “Safety is a high priority for Black Elk Energy and we will continue to work cooperatively with local and national federal agencies to understand exactly what happened with the incident at our platform in the Gulf of Mexico.”
BSEE said it ordered Black Elk to submit a performance improvement plan by Dec. 15. And the bureau outlined several steps that must be taken to improve safety. Those include an end to “hot work” on facilities until the company can demonstrate “that steps have been taken, and a safety manager is in place whose responsibility it will be to improve hazard identification, training, and oversight for such operations.”
Hot work is work that can produce flames, sparks or a source of ignition _ such as welding or grinding. The Coast Guard said Friday that a torch was in use at the time of the accident. Grand Isle Shipyard Inc., a subcontractor that was doing maintenance on the platform, has said a welding torch was not in use at the time of the accident.
Other steps outlined by BSEE include keeping the site of Friday’s fire shut down, along with other Black Elk facilities where operations have been stopped, or “shut in.” BSEE estimated that 41 Black Elk sites are shut in for various reasons.
Friday’s accident was on a production platform in shallow water off Louisiana’s coast, but it was not producing oil at the time and did not result in a continuous leak of oil, unlike the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon