Processing Magazine

Black Elk to blame for 2012 platform explosion, report finds

November 11, 2013

<photocredit>?ukasz Zakrzewski/iStockphoto/Thinkstock</photocredit>

The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the Coast Guard have released their joint report on the explosion at the Black Elk Energy platform in November 2012, which killed three workers.

Investigators concluded that the incident occurred because of "poor decisions" made by the Houston-based platform operator and its contractors. Black Elk had failed to establish the necessary safety procedures at the platform and did not manage to communicate properly the risks to its contractors, the report said. In addition, contractors did not take the required safety precautions when preparing for the welding operations. Contractors were supposed to make sure that all pipes had been completely cleared of the flammable gas using a detector but they failed to do so.

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Furthermore, the report pointed out that workers at the platform had noticed the "apparent anomalies" but did not take any action because they were afraid that raising safety concerns might cost them their job.

Bureau director Brian Salerno commented that the problems that the report exposed were in stark contrast to the safety culture that should be established on any offshore oil and gas platform and were a reflection of the extent to which safety precautions were disregarded by Black Elk. The BSEE said in a statement that appropriate enforcement actions will be taken, including possible penalties against the operator and some of the contractors.