BSEE Report Following Fire on Oil Platform in Gulf of Mexico

by | May 1, 2021 | Offshore accidents

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has released its Accident Report on the fire that broke out on the Eugene Island 259A Platform on October 21, 2020.  The unmanned platform is owned and operated by Cox Operating LLC.  During the incident, operators based at the EI 259C Platform observed the fire and then boarded a helicopter to investigate.

The BSEE report, explained the source of the fire:

The operators found a fire coming from the exhaust of the diesel generator. Once the operators landed, the fuel supply to the generator was shut off by the operator and the fire was extinguished using a 300 lbs. wheel unit. A Temperature Safety Element (TSE) on a nearby fuel tank melted causing the facility to shut in. Operators discovered that the ESD on the generator package tripped, but the generator continued to run even though the air shut off tripped.

The equipment was inspected during preventative maintenance that occurred on January 19, 2020.  During that inspection, it was suspected there was an exhaust leak according to the mechanic’s notes. However, the exhaust leak was not properly documented in Cox’s internal systems regarding preventative maintenance.  As a result, the issue was not flagged for repairs or further inspection.

The BSEE report determined the probable cause of the incident:

Equipment failure of the governor actuator linkage allowed an engine overspeed event to occur. After the overspeed event occurred, the turbo locked up and oil seals leaked on both sides of the turbo. Eventually enough oil and carbon built up in the exhaust to start a fire within the exhaust from the heat generated from the combustion of the engine.

The air shut off valve failed to perform its designed function when the engine overspeed event was detected allowing the engine to continue running, thereby increasing the exhaust system temperature.

An exhaust leak continually built up carbon which was ignited overtime by high exhaust system temperatures.

BSEE noted the following violations that contributed to the incident:

On October 21, 2020, Cox Operating, LLC failed to perform operations in a safe and workmanlike manner as follows: After observing the fire at EI 259A, operators at EI 259C boarded a helicopter to investigate. The operators found a fire coming from the exhaust of the diesel generator. Once the operators landed, the fuel supply to the generator was shut off by the operator and the fire was extinguished using a 300 lbs. wheel unit. A TSE on a near by fuel tank melted causing the facility to shut in. Operators discovered that the ESD on the generator package tripped, but the generator continued to run even though the air shut off tripped. Operators found no damage to the facility due to the fire.

As per the last Preventive Maintenance Inspection, which was conducted on January 19, 2020, it was suspected that there was an exhaust leak around the hot side of the turbo due to signs of soot according to the mechanic’s notes. The mechanic failed to properly document the exhaust leak in the Cox Preventive Maintenance Mapcon system. Documenting the generator’s deficiencies would have flagged the system that corrections were required. As a result of the operator’s investigation, a position was created as a Mapcon auditor and trainer for the mechanics. This auditor will review every Preventive Maintenance Report to ensure full completion of the repairs to prevent this type of incident from reoccurring.

The incident shows the importance of an adequate preventative maintenance program for any offshore operators.  Merely having a maintenance schedule in place is not enough, rather a safe company must follow through to ensure that repairs are made.  Failing to do so doesn’t just risk environmental damage and pollution, it risks lives of hardworking offshore workers.

Our attorneys have extensive experience in maritime injury and wrongful death litigation in courts across the country and the skills needed to represent the families of loved ones who have lost their lives as a result of the negligence of another party, or been seriously injured.  We have handled numerous cases involving injuries that occurred on offshore platforms.  The experienced offshore accident attorneys at Spagnoletti Law Firm can help you understand your rights if you or a loved one was a victim of an offshore accident.  Please contact us online or call 713-804-9306 or to learn more about your legal rights.