One killed, three injured in GOM platform explosion

NOVEMBER 23, 2014—One person was killed and three others were injured as the result of an explosion during routine maintenance operations on the West Delta 105 E production platform 20 miles off of the Louisiana coast on November 20. The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) is actively investigating the explosion aboard the production platform, which is operated by Fieldwood Energy, Houston, TX.

Contractors with Turnkey Cleaning Services were cleaning a piece of equipment, called a heater treater, at the time of the incident. Damage to the facility is reported to be limited to the heater treater. The platform had been shut in for more than a week and was not producing at the time of this incident, according to BSEE.

 The operator reports that all three injured were evaluated and released from the hospital and all other personnel aboard the platform are safe. 

 There has been no reported fire or release of oil or pollution as a result of this incident.

 A team of BSEE engineers, inspectors and investigators are currently on the facility conducting an incident investigation. Through the course of the investigation, the BSEE investigation team will interview witnesses and analyze evidence to determine the cause of the explosion.

In a statement, Fieldwood Energy said the incident occurred when employees of Turnkey Cleaning Services were cleaning a heater treater, which is a piece of equipment that separates oil from water and other liquids. Turnkey Cleaning Services is a Louisiana-based industrial cleaning service company that specializes in the cleaning of offshore facilities, including the cleaning of heater treaters.

During the cleaning process, states Fieldwood Energy, one Turnkey employee was fatally injured and a second suffered visible injuries. The Turnkey employee who suffered visible injuries was immediately flown to West Jefferson Hospital for evaluation and treatment. Two other individuals who were on the platform complained of ringing in their ears, so they also were flown to the same hospital to be evaluated. All three of these individuals have been evaluated and released from the hospital. All other personnel on the platform have been accounted for and are safe.

The West Delta 105 "E" platform has not been producing oil or gas for over a week, as the facility was undergoing routine maintenance operations when the incident occurred. There were no wells that were producing at the time of the incident. The explosion that was mentioned in the initial reports was not a well explosion or well blowout. Instead, it was an isolated pressure event that occurred inside the heater treater and did not result in a fire on the platform. This incident was not related to a drilling operation but, instead, occurred during maintenance operations at the platform. There was no oil spill or pollution that resulted from this incident and it was contained immediately after it occurred with no damage to the environment, the platform, or the platform's wells.

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