Photo: For illustration purposes. Source: Fieldwood Energy

Regulator to probe fatal Gulf of Mexico incident

U.S. offshore safety authority has launched an investigation into a fatal incident on a Fieldwood Energy platform in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) said late last week that it had established a panel to investigate a fatality that occurred on 15 May at Eugene Island Block 158, Platform #14, which is operated by Fieldwood Energy.

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The platform is located about 125 miles southwest of New Orleans in the Gulf of Mexico. The incident occurred during a non-emergency casing pressure test on a shut-in well.

BSEE Gulf of Mexico Regional Director, Lars Herbst, said: “We are assembling a panel of experts who will conduct a thorough investigation into this tragic incident. We are committed to a complete investigation to determine the cause of the incident and to identify approaches that will enhance the safety of future operations”.

A team of BSEE investigators, inspectors, and engineers will review information provided through operator, contract employees, witnesses, and subject matter expert interviews. Investigators will also analyze any evidence from forensic testing.

The panel will issue a report with its findings regarding the causes and make recommendations on how to strengthen existing safety measures once the investigation is completed.

“Panel Investigations are critical in ensuring BSEE determines the cause, or causes, of an incident and develops recommendations for the offshore energy industry”, Herbst said.

BSEE’s National Investigations Program is administered by its Safety and Incident Investigations Division in Washington, D.C. The panel investigations are an integral tool for improving both safety and environmental protection.

Fieldwood is currently under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, filed back in August 2020. This was not Fieldwood’s first Chapter 11 in recent years. Namely, the company had filed for bankruptcy back in February 2018 and emerged in April of the same year.