Fault Found in Fatal Oil Platform Fire
An explosion and fire during a construction project last November on a Gulf of Mexico oil production platform operated by Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations, LLC occurred after contractors failed to follow standard safety practices, a third-party investigator has concluded. The platform is located at West Delta 32 Block in the Gulf of Mexico, 17 miles south east of Grand Isle, La.
After a thorough eight-month investigation, ABSG Consulting found that, while production was shut in, workers welded on piping that was connected to a tank containing crude oil and flammable oil vapors without following Black Elk Energy’s safety practices.
A global company known in safety and risk management, ABSG was retained by Black Elk Energy to investigate the Nov. 16, 2012 incident that resulted in the deaths of three workers and injuries to others. ABSG performed an extensive investigation to determine the causes of the accident, coordinated its investigation with the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), and provided recommendations to prevent a similar incident in the future.
“The victims of this tragic accident last November are always in our thoughts and prayers,” said John Hoffman, Black Elk’s president and CEO. “We owe it to them and their families to understand how this accident happened. With this ABSG report, I am confident we now know the causes of this tragedy and how to prevent such an accident from ever happening again.”
ABSG found that:
·On the day of the incident, workers were welding a flange on open piping leading to an oil tank that contained flammable vapors. The piping leading to the tank had not been isolated and made safe for welding activities as required by Black Elk Energy safe work practices.
·Flammable vapors in the piping ignited and within seconds reached the first oil tank and then two connected tanks.
Black Elk Energy contracted with Grand Isle Shipyard to perform the construction work. Although Grand Isle committed in its contract to not use subcontractors on Black Elk Energy projects, all of the workers performing the welding involved in the incident were employed by DNR Offshore and Crewing Services, a subcontractor of Grand Isle.
ABSG determined that use of the DNR Offshore subcontractor without notifying Black Elk Energy was one of several causes of the incident. ABSG also determined other causes were that Grand Isle and DNR Offshore employees failed to adequately follow safe work practices for performing welding and failed to stop work when unsafe conditions existed. The workers involved in the incident were from the Philippines.
“Filipino offshore oil workers have a deserved reputation for competence and professionalism,” Hoffman said. “A serious issue in this case was Grand Isle’s apparent failure to provide proper safety training and appropriate supervision.”
In conducting its investigation, ABSG reviewed thousands of pages of documents and records; collected and preserved physical evidence from the platform; performed fire and explosion modeling of the incident; and utilized industry-accepted causal analysis methodologies to determine the causes of the incident.
“Over the past eight months we have worked to provide support for the victims and their families and cooperated with government officials to analyze the causes of the incident and to implement policy and procedural improvements to minimize the risk of similar incidents in the future,” Hoffman said.
ABSG Consulting issued its report to BSEE and Black Elk Energy; it is available at: http://www.blackelkenergy.com/images/documents/Investigation-of-WD-32-Platform-Explosions-on-11-16-12.pdf
Hydrostor receives $4m funding for A-CAES facility in Canada
Hydrostor has received $4m funding to develop a 300-500MW Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) facility in Canada.
The funding will be used to complete essential engineering and planning, and enable Hydrostor to plan construction.
The project will be modeled on Hydrostor’s commercially operating Goderich storage facility, providing up to 12 hours of energy storage.
Hydrostor’s A-CAES system supports Canada’s green economic transition by designing, building, and operating emissions-free energy storage facilities, and employing people, suppliers, and technologies from the oil and gas sector.
The Honorable Seamus O’Regan, Jr. Minister of Natural Resources, said: “Investing in clean technology will lower emissions and increase our competitiveness. This is how we get to net zero by 2050.”
A-CAES has the potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions by enabling the transition to a cleaner and more flexible electricity grid. Specifically, the low-impact and cost-effective technology will reduce the use of fossil fuels and will provide reliable and bankable energy storage solutions for utilities and regulators, while integrating renewable energy for sustainable growth.
Curtis VanWalleghem, Hydrostor’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are grateful for the federal government’s support of our long duration energy storage solution that is critical to enabling the clean energy transition. This made-in-Canada solution, with the support of NRCan and Sustainable Development Technology Canada, is ready to be widely deployed within Canada and globally to lower electricity rates and decarbonize the electricity sector."
The Rosamond A-CAES 500MW Project is under advanced development and targeting a 2024 launch. It is designed to turn California’s growing solar and wind resources into on-demand peak capacity while allowing for closure of fossil fuel generating stations.
Hydrostor closed US$37 million (C$49 million) in growth financing in September 2019.