Risks with New Drilling Projects in the Gulf of Mexico
In the last 30 years, more than 50 deepwater floating production systems have been sanctioned in the Gulf of Mexico. Including tension leg platforms, spar platforms and semisubmersible platforms, these systems have allowed for drilling at over 9,000 feet while enhancing both productivity and efficiency in the offshore arena.
With oil prices in a slump and many oil companies focusing on acquisitions, the sanctioning of new floating production systems has slowed in recent years (similar to what we saw from 1997 to 2000 and 2007 to 2009). As some analysts have pointed out, with less money to devote to new floating offshore systems, “there will be little room for error in executing those projects.”
While these analysts were speaking in terms of delays that can make floating production systems too expensive to complete, there is an important warning for offshore workers hidden in this statement as well: Mistakes and cost-cutting measures are common practice when it comes to building new offshore platforms.
How Oil Companies’ Expensive Mistakes Can Put Offshore Workers at Risk
As we have previously discussed, oil companies’ cost-cutting measures often spell danger for offshore workers. When the choice is between abandoning a multi-million dollar production system and cutting a few corners to get it done, it is easy to see which way some companies will go. On top of that, with mistakes being found along the way, it is not difficult to imagine (and, in fact, we know from experience) that dangerous conditions will exist once workers are sent to begin drilling and producing oil offshore as well.
These are not minor mistakes we’re talking about. For example, some of the issues leading to delays in completion of new floating production systems have included:
- Installation of weak mooring shackles (12-month delay)
- Installation of a faulty ballast system and defective subsea manifolds (30-month delay)
- Installation of mooring line requiring replacement (three-month delay)
- Failure to commission life boats for safety (three to six-month delay)
Of course, these types of problems not only signal possible dangers for oil workers, but they represent actual dangers for the crews working on constructing the new offshore systems. In short, cost-cutting measures that lead to tight deadlines, limited staffing and oversight, and resulting mistakes put all offshore workers in harm’s way.
What to Do If You Have Been Injured Offshore
If you have been injured working offshore, you need to be careful to protect yourself. The oil companies’ cost-saving measures are not limited to new production projects in the Gulf. Unfortunately, some companies will also go to great lengths to try to minimize their liability for employees’ injuries. As an offshore worker, you have rights, and it is important not to let your employer take advantage of you.
To protect yourself after an offshore accident, you should:
- Report the accident to your employer
- Avoid going to your employer’s company physician and talking to case workers
- See your own doctor (you have the right to see your own doctor under the Jones Act)
- Follow your doctor’s advice about treatment, rest and returning to work
- Speak with an experienced offshore injury lawyer as soon as possible
Morrow & Sheppard LLP | Houston Jones Act Lawyers for Injured Offshore Workers
Lawyers Nick Morrow and John D. Sheppard represent individuals who have been injured while working in the Gulf of Mexico. They have the experience, knowledge and resources you need to protect your legal rights against the oil companies. To discuss your injury case for free, contact Morrow & Sheppard LLP for a confidential, no-obligation consultation today.