In December, three workers went missing at sea when an oil company’s offshore platform sank. This tragic incident was not the first time a platform has sunk. In 1991, the Sleipner A offshore platform became known for a catastrophic failure that occurred as a result of a design flaw. The hull sank at a rate of 1 meter per minute and the buoyancy chambers exploded as it went below the water in the 210-meter fjord. The rubble from the implosion struck the floor of the fjord and created a Richter magnitude scale 3 earthquake.
While the Sleipner A disaster was unique and grabbed headlines because it caused the earthquake, the fact is that sinking of offshore oil platforms are far too common and often not widely publicized. When a platform does sink, those aboard are always in grave danger. An experienced offshore accident lawyer knows it is important to understand why and how sinking occurs and to do everything possible to protect the workers who do dangerous jobs aboard offshore oil rigs.
Sinking Offshore Platforms
Australia Network News reported on the sinking of an offshore platform that occurred in December. The platform belonged to Aramco, a Saudi oil company, and was being used to perform maintenance work on an oil well located in the world’s largest offshore oil field, Safaniya, which is located 265 kilometres north of Dhahran.
There were 27 crew members aboard the platform, and 24 of the crew members were saved, although Aramco did indicate that some workers had suffered injuries. Three of the workers, however, went missing when the platform sank and were subsequently found dead at sea.
After the tragedy, Aramco reported that it had dealt promptly with the incident by seeking support from medical evacuation teams; company helicopters; special diving teams and boats. Unfortunately, the efforts were not enough to save the lives of the three workers. An investigation has been launched to try to determine the reason the platform sank, but operations continue and have not been halted by the disaster.
Investigation into the cause of the incident is necessary to prevent future incidents and because there are a lot of different reasons why platforms sink. For example, in an April 2011 accident, an offshore platform housing 713 workers and containing 2,075 barrels of diesel as well as 82 barrels of kerosene started sinking into the Gulf of Mexico. The sinking in this case was prompted by a failure of the water pumps. Bilge pumps were not sufficient to counteract water pouring onto the deck, and the platform began to flood after the water pump broke.
Attempts were made to stabilize the platform, but they were unsuccessful and the platform shifted and partly sank. The company, Mexican state-owned Pemex, was left to try to find solutions to recover the sunken platform. Learning why the incident happened and taking steps to prevent sinking in the future could help other company’s to avoid the loss of expensive equipment and could help to prevent the deaths of more oil workers.
Contact the Law Offices of William Gee III today at 1-800-488-5227 to speak to a Louisiana offshore accident lawyer.