BSEE Report Issued After Fire on WC96B Platform in Gulf of Mexico

by | Mar 15, 2022 | Offshore accidents

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has released its investigation report on the November 27, 2021 fire that occurred on the West Cameron Block 96 Platform B (WC96B) in the Gulf of Mexico.  The flash fire broke out while operations were underway to remove skid pads with a blow torch on the top deck of the platform.  The platform was operated by Talos Third Coast LLC.  Performance Energy Services was the construction crew hired by Talos at the time, with Tiger Rentals as the Health and Safety Advisor.

According to the investigation report, on the morning of the incident the Person in Charge and the Talos company representative met to discuss the work that would be completed, as well as issue JSAs and hot work permits that would be needed by the workers.  However, the individuals failed to visit the location of the work to verify that all hazards had been remediated.  During the morning’s work, the fire watch on the platform noticed slag falling from hot work operations on the top deck onto the water skimmer manway cover located below, resulting in a flash fire.

During the investigation, BSEE learned that the water skimmer had recently been partially cleaned.  The Talos company man believed it had been rendered inert during this cleaning.  However, there was an unknown amount of condensate left in the skimmer.  Following the cleaning, the manhole cover was only loosely secured with four bolts.  This resulted in gas escaping from the cover, which led to the flash fire breaking out during hot work.

The BSEE report determined the probable cause of the incident:

BSEE investigators determined the vessel had only been cleaned of sand and sludge, leaving an undetermined amount of condensate in the oil bucket of the vessel. This allowed gas vapors to escape from the condensate through the unsealed manway cover. Slag and sparks fell directly onto the water skimmer and the manway cover igniting the combustible gas.

BSEE was also able to identify multiple contributing causes of the incident, which serve as a reminder of how to safely conduct work offshore:

Communication – Talos company representative believed the water skimmer was rendered inert and allowed the manway cover to be loosely secured. The water skimmer contained condensate and combustible gas.

Supervision – Jobsite walkthroughs each morning to identify hazards and discuss mitigations were not being performed prior to hot work permits being approved.

Fire Watch – The manway cover of the water skimmer was not surveyed with the gas detector prior to the hot work beginning on the deck above.

Resolving anyone one of the contributing causes to this incident could have prevented the fire from ever breaking out.  When an offshore accident like this one occurs, there are often multiple causes which contribute to it.  Safe offshore companies must insure that adequate precautions are taken, including proper communication between workers, and adequate supervision from the managers on site.

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 following fires or explosions 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 accident.  Please contact us online or call 713-804-9306 or to learn more about your legal rights.