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Top List of World’s Worst Offshore Oil Rig Disasters 2020 Update

Filed in Articles by on August 28, 2020

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Top List of World’s Worst Offshore Oil Rig Disasters 2020 Update.

Drilling for oil is inherently dangerous. Workers exert astronomical pressure on the earth’s foundation, using enormous pressure and power to drill and extract the planet’s natural resources deep within the ground.

Top List of World’s Worst Offshore Oil Rig Disasters 2020 Update

They have been so many offshore oil rig disasters of recent times and to every event become more deadly than the previous. In this article, we have made available for you all top list of world’s worst oil rig disasters 2020 updates.

What Is the World’s Worst Offshore Oil Rig Explosion In History?

In terms of sheer loss of life, the Piper Alpha disaster is the deadliest offshore oil rig disaster ever recorded. On July 6, 1988, there was a pump maintenance project that led to the removal of a safety valve on a gas pipe.

The pipe was temporarily sealed, and the pump was ordered to be left off until the project could be completed. However, due to a communication error, the next shift crew turned on the pump. This led to a gas leak that created a series of massive explosions.

The explosions killed 167 people, leaving only 61 survivors of a 226-person crew.

How Often Do Oil Rig Explosions Occur?

Oil rig explosions are like plane crashes: they are rare, but when they occur, there’s usually a tremendous loss of life. Greg McCormack, director of the Petroleum Extension Service at the University of Texas, said “These events are low probability with a high consequence.”

Like plane crashes, oil rig explosions are almost always due to human error, which is why it’s vital to hold oil companies accountable when something goes terribly wrong.

Top List of World’s Worst Offshore Oil Rig Disasters

Below is the top list of the world’s worst offshore oil rig disasters of all time;

1. The Santa Barbara Oil Spill (January 1969)

In January 1969, Union Oil began drilling a fifth oil well on their offshore Platform A, just over five miles from the coast of Santa Barbara, CA. On the morning of January 28, the well blew out, spewing oil and gas.

The explosion cracked the sea floor in 5 places and released 1,000 gallons of oil an hour. A second blow out in a different well followed on February 24th. Eventually, the California coastline would be devastated by 3 million gallons of crude—the largest oil spill in the nation’s history until the Exxon Valdez 20 years later.

The destruction was both so immense and so visible that it sparked the environmental advocacy movement as we know it. The spill led to the signing of the National Environmental Policy Act, which required the creation of environmental impact reports on major projects.

The spill created a cultural moment, too. For the first time, regular Americans were deeply concerned with environmental health. The following year marked the first time the U.S. celebrated Earth Day.

2. The Alexander L. Kielland Disaster (March 1980)

In March 1980, one of the deadliest oil rig accidents in history occurred due to a fatigue crack caused by a bad weld job 6mm wide. On March 27, more than 200 oil rig workers were aboard the Alexander L.

Kielland, a “floating hotel” for off-duty operators that included a cinema among its amenities. The oil platform was owned by Stavanger Drilling Company, but it was being used by Phillips Petroleum at the time.

In the evening, while the men were enjoying their off hours, the wind outside had picked up to 45 miles per hour with 40-foot waves. Around 6:30 PM, the men reported hearing a loud crack—later determined to be the snapping of 5 anchor cables.

The sixth cable barely held, preventing the platform from capsizing. However, because there was a poor command structure aboard the Kielland, most of the men did not attempt to escape the platform. Within 20 minutes, the sixth anchor cable snapped and the platform capsized. Of the seven 50-man lifeboats and twenty 20-man rafts, only 1 lifeboat and 2 rafts were able to release from the lowering cables. Of the 212 men aboard, 123 were killed.

The tragedy led to new requirements for lifeboat hooks and new command structures to facilitate faster abandonment of sinking vessels.

3. The Ocean Ranger Disaster (February 1982)

The Ocean Ranger was a mobile offshore drilling rig that sank near Canada in February 1982 while drilling an exploratory well for Mobil Oil of Canada. The evening of February 14, 1982, Ocean Ranger and nearby vessels were hit by a rogue wave.

The oil platform was heard over the radio describing how a porthole window was broken, allowing water to enter the ballast control room. The vessel was getting hit by waves 65 feet or higher, while the porthole window was only at 28 feet. After midnight, Ocean Ranger reported they were listing 10-15 degrees.

At around 1 AM, local authorities and Mobil helicopters were alerted to the situation. All nearby vessels were asked to assist the platform, which was still leaning 10 degrees to the left. The Ocean Ranger transmitted a final message that they were abandoning ship.

All 84 of the crew, including 46 Mobil employees and 38 contractors, were killed. Investigators found that nearby vessels were not equipped to rescue casualties from the sea, especially in severe weather, so most of the men died from drowning or hypothermia.

4. The Deepwater Horizon Disaster (April 2010)

The destruction of the Deepwater Horizon is one of the worst offshore disasters in recent memory. The rig, owned by Transocean and drilling for BP, exploded and caught fire on April 20, 2010 off the Louisiana coast. The oil rig explosion was preceded by numerous red flags. In 2009, BP engineers were concerned that the materials they wanted to use for drilling would buckle under pressure. Rig workers believed they would be fired for raising safety concerns, but many were concerned that the equipment was unreliable and required maintenance.

In March 2010, an accident went unreported that damaged the blowout preventer (which had gone uninspected since 2005). On the night of the explosion, BP engineers saw warning signs hours before the blowout that the well was going to explode. At 9:56 PM, a bubble of methane gas travelled up the drill column, expanding as it climbed. Survivors described two “vibrations” prior to the fire starting.

The oil rig fire burned for over a day before the Deepwater Horizon sank. Of the 126 people on board, 11 were killed and 17 were transported to trauma centres. Other workers were transported to a hotel in Kenner, Louisiana where they were asked to sign a waiver asserting that they were not injured. Workers reported feeling as though they were being forced to sign the waiver before being given what they needed.

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CSN Team.

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