The oil and gas industry plays a vital role in the American economy. These fuels power transportation and energy sectors across the country and are instrumental to the daily lives of most Americans. Most oil and gas reserves are located offshore, at the surface of the ocean, many thousands of feet deep. Extracting oil from within the earth is a complex and costly process, requiring very advanced and powerful equipment.
Drilling for oil and gas is a dangerous industry. Each day, workers face hazards including serious injury and death if the process is not performed properly. For this reason, oil industry workers are specially trained on how to operate equipment and machinery. Deviation from training or safety standards can result in an explosion on the rig that endangers all persons and property in the nearby vicinity.
Most oil rig explosions are preventable through the use of ordinary care and caution. If you or a loved one have been affected by a blast aboard an oil rig, you should seek information regarding your legal rights. At Burg Simpson, we handle offshore oil rig explosion cases and we can fight for the compensation that you deserve during this difficult time.
How Often Do Oil Rigs Explode?
According to statistics, there were 55 reported oil rig explosions in the United States oil and gas industry between 2007 and 2020. On average during this period, about three explosions were reported each year. However, the exact number of explosions varies by year. In 2010, there were only two reported explosions while in 2019, a total of 11 blasts were reported.
Perhaps the most infamous oil rig explosion in modern times was the Deepwater Horizon spill. This event took place in 2010 and involved the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that was working on behalf of BP off the coast of Louisiana. The Deepwater Horizon explosion was catastrophic, resulting in 11 deaths and 17 injuries among crew members. Further, the resulting oil spill from the rig caused an ecological disaster as the oil slick from the ship expanded over 57,000 square miles and killed thousands of marine animals and wildlife. In the aftermath of the explosion, the oil company BP reportedly spent billions of dollars settling lawsuits and cleaning up the spill.
Why Do Oil Rigs Explode?
The tragedy of the Deepwater Horizon spill and similar oil rig explosions across history raises the question as to why these explosions happen. There may be numerous reasons. In the case of the Deepwater Horizon rig, the ship contained an 18,000-foot deep well that was designed to contain oil and gas within its bore. The cement at the base of the well eventually failed, causing the oil and gas to escape through the core of the ship and into the drilling rig causing the explosion. Subsequent investigations determined that BP and the owner of the rig, Transocean, were at least partly to blame for the explosion.
In addition to this catastrophic system failure, oil rigs can also explode under intense pressure. The process of drilling deep within the earth’s surface creates a massive amount of pressure at the drilling spot. Sometimes, the balance between drilling and pressure is disrupted during the drilling process. When this happens, pressure can erupt through the system and eventually cause an explosion when it reaches an open-air location such as the surface of the rig itself.
Other causes of oil rig explosions include human error related to improper maintenance. An oil rig is made up of a series of pipelines designed to hold and process potentially combustible and hazardous materials. These lines are normally constructed of sturdy materials such as steel. Over time, however, the construction material can begin to erode or break down leading to leaks or faults in the system. If the combustible material is able to escape through these areas, it can lead to a catastrophic blast. For this reason, it is imperative that oil rig components are regularly inspected for signs of wear and tear and that necessary replacements are made. If a leak or fault can be found and addressed in time, it may save a tragedy from occurring down the road.
Who is Responsible When an Oil Rig Explodes?
Determining responsibility for an oil rig explosion is a complex process. Although it takes place offshore, oil drilling activities often fall under the jurisdiction of the United States government and its various agencies. When an explosion happens, the government will send an investigator to the site to examine the area and determine how the blast occurred. The results of these investigations are often vital to future litigation involving the explosion.
An experienced oil and gas explosion attorney will normally conduct their own investigation into the explosion as well. Using expert witnesses and technology, an attorney can help you find a way forward following this difficult incident. Some of the individuals and entities that may be responsible for the explosion include:
- Oil and gas companies
- Oil rig owners
- Engineers and design professionals
Holding the proper parties accountable is the only to ensure that you receive proper compensation. If you have questions about your legal rights, you should reach out to a nationwide oil rig explosion attorney as soon as possible.
National Oil and Gas Explosion Lawyers
Here at Burg Simpson, we can help following a serious event like an oil and gas explosion. Many law firms lack the experience and resources to handle these complex and difficult cases. We will ensure that your legal rights are protected while fighting for the compensation that you need and deserve. We understand that this is a difficult time in your life and we are here to stand up for your legal rights.
Our firm offers a free consultation and case evaluation for all potential and prospective clients. When you are in need of a tough and aggressive law firm, you can count on us to deliver the results that you need. Let us help you move forward following a sudden and unexpected tragedy. To schedule your time to speak with a national oil and gas explosion lawyer, please reach out to us using our online intake form or give us a call at (866) 695-2112.