Regulators call for industry 'stand down' after oil rig explosion

Regulators are calling for an industry "stand down" to review safety precautions after investigating a Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion that resulted in three deaths.


The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement released a report on Thursday that found rig operator Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations and contractors at fault for the 2012 explosion and fire. There were multiple decisions and actions that led to the incident, according to the report.

"The death and serious injuries of the workers on the Black Elk facility remind us of the grave consequences that can arise from offshore operations," Brian Salerno, director of the safety and environmental bureau, said in a statement.

"These failures reflect a disregard for the safety of workers on the platform and are the antithesis of the type of safety culture that should guide decisionmaking in all offshore oil and gas operations."

The safety "stand down" asks that all operators with workers on offshore rigs evaluate — before the end of the year — events that may lead to an explosion like the one at the Black Elk platform, and take necessary measures to ensure all operations are safe.

The regulator also called on the American Petroleum Institute (API), a major oil and gas lobby, to help push industry best practices on safety, specifically when it comes to tasks like welding.

“Safety is our highest priority," said Brian Straessle, spokesman for the oil lobby. "Like all API standards, our recommended practices for safe welding, cutting and hot work are updated on a regular basis, and API’s standards program is accredited by the American National Standards Institute.

"We will review the report and any recommendations as we continue to work closely with government agencies to ensure that regulations and industry standards reflect the best practices, technologies, safety standards and environmental protections possible," Straessle said in an email to The Hill in response to the report.