Deaths and Injuries at Gulf of Mexico Oil Platform

It was early in the morning of Wednesday, April 1, 2015 on the Abkatun Permanente oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. Suddenly, a fire broke out on the platform, which is situated in the Bay of Campeche and is owned by Pemex, Mexico’s state-run oil company. At the height of the conflagration, there were eight firefighting boats battling the flames. Authorities say that four people died, as many as 45 were injured in the blaze with 16 of those serious, and 302 Pemex employees were evacuated from the site. One of the people who died was reportedly a contractor with Cotemar, a Mexican oil services company. Sadly, accidents such as this one are all too common in the oil industry, which explains why many prudent workers keep the name of an offshore injury lawyer handy just in case such an incident should occur on their watch. The Abkatun-Pol-Chuc offshore oilfields, where this pumping and dewatering platform is located, are relatively modest producers by world standards, making only 300,000 barrels per day in 2013. Compare that to Canterell, also in Mexico, which yields almost two million barrels of oil per day. However, the Abkatun-Pol-Chuc offshore oilfields were, at one time, much more prolific than they are now. During their heyday in the 1990s, they generated 700,000 barrels per day. Even though they have declined markedly over the past two decades, they continue to be a work environment which poses significant risk of injury or death to all the men and women who are employed there. Wednesday morning’s fatal incident was not the first Pemex oil platform accident. In 1970, the Ixtoc 1 oil rig exploded, spewing 140 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. It took Mexican and U.S. workers over nine months to clean up the disaster. Then, in 2007 at the Kerrick Kab 121 platform further up the coast, 21 Pemex workers were killed in a crude oil spill and natural gas leak. Six years later at the company’s Mexico City headquarters, 37 people lost their lives in an oil-related explosion. Those who make their living on the oil rigs and platforms located offshore work in one of the world’s most dangerous sectors. In fact, someone working in the oil or gas industry is six times more likely to die while on the job than the average American employee. Furthermore, oil and gas jobs are rated consistently less safe than construction work, which many people erroneously believe to include the most dangerous tasks. Fortunately, U.S. laws, most notably the Jones Act, have been put in place to protect employees from negligent oil companies and ship owners in the event that an accident or fire occurs. Because navigating the legal system can be a complicated and stressful process, an entire industry of Jones Act attorneys has come into being for the sole purpose of addressing these complex and special situations. An oil rig accident attorney can, for example, work with an injured employee to understand his or her rights under the law and to advocate on their behalf in obtaining financial compensation for the pain, suffering and medical expenses that occurred as a result of a fire, explosion or accident. For as long as oil rigs and platforms like Abkatun Permanente continue to pump and refine the oil we use every day, the dangers will continue and accidents both large and small will happen. Furthermore, until people no longer work at sea, there will be qualified, experienced Jones Act attorneys ready and waiting to advocate for justice after an accident occurs.