In mid-November, federal regulators cited Houston-based Black Elk Energy—an offshore oil producer—after a November 2012 incident left three of its contractors dead, and several gravely injured. This onslaught by the government left Black Elk with 41 separate citations, which could possibly lead to civil penalties.
Black Elk is no stranger to these citations. At this time last year, Black Elk had over 300 citations that they had accrued over a period of two years. An investigation by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement found that Black Elk’s safety procedures were far from conducive to creating a safe work environment. In 2012, Black Elk was fined over $300,000 after a gas leak was discovered on an oil platform and the company did not attend to it for months.
The government is not the only party looking to collect from Black Elk’s negligence. On October 30, 2013, one of the contractors who were severely injured in the November incident sued Black Elk, along with Compass Engineering & Consultants and other contractors, for unspecified damages.
Renato Dominguez suffered severe burns in an explosion that was caused by the presence of flammable hydrocarbons in a pipe that was being welded. It was the responsibility of a contractor to clear the pipe, and Black Elk’s responsibility to ensure that the oil platform was safe.
Offshore safety is a common concern in the Houston offshore worker community, as companies with violations rarely face consequences beyond a small fine. Houston offshore injury attorney Steve Lee extends his sympathies to the families of the killed workers, as well as to the workers injured in the explosion who continue to try to rebuild their lives and heal.