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Clock Is Ticking On Next Oil Rig Disaster

Clock Is Ticking on Next Oil Rig Disaster

Remember the BP oil spill of 2010? Who could forget? It’s not a matter of if, but when, the next major oil drilling accident and the spill will happen in the Gulf of Mexico. The downturn in oil prices aside, the number of rigs in the Gulf now stands at 59 – a 23% increase over the last year alone. New oil companies are flocking to the Gulf, and production is expected to rise to 1.9 million barrels of oil a day by 2019, an increase of 26% over the previous four years.

Yet this rosy picture hides a dirty secret: the same key machinery that failed to prevent the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill – the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history– is still in wide use today. I am talking about oil well blow-out preventers.

Blow-Out Preventers Need Upgrading to New Safety Standards

Blow-out preventers are a rig’s last line of defense against runaway wells both offshore and onshore. They are critical to the safety of the crew, rig, and environment. In the case of the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion, the blow-out preventer failed to seal the pipe as it was supposed to. Instead, it punched a hole in the pipe, allowing the oil to gush unchecked into the sea.

An extensive report by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) sheds more light on design and operations problems with the Deepwater blow-out preventer. The report concluded the component meant to shear and seal the well was not suitable for use in drilling operations, the wiring was flawed, and two backup batteries may have failed. The report further noted that adequate inspections or testing could have revealed these flaws before they became fatal.

Potentially Faulty Blow-Out Preventers Still In Use

The same piece of equipment is still in wide use in the Gulf and elsewhere. According to the CSB, “this results in potential safety gaps in U.S. offshore operations and leaves open the possibility of another similar catastrophic accident.” How many of these blow-out preventers have been retooled and retested since the 2010 disaster? From my experience with the oil and gas industry, probably few to none. To do so would be expensive and difficult – adjectives that cause oil company executives to close their eyes, plug their ears and go “mi-mi-mi-mi-mi.”

The Gulf is poised for a wave of new drilling activity; three major new deepwater oil fields have been discovered in the Gulf since 2009. The oil industry should establish new, tougher safety standards for blow-out-preventers and other key safety elements on oil rigs in advance of new construction, and require inspections and retesting of existing blow-out preventers.

If the industry does not learn from its own sad history, it will repeat it. When that happens – not if – one of the first questions will be whether rig owners re-inspected and retooled blow-out preventers to a higher level of safety that existed in 2010.


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Recent Results

Successful Verdicts & Settlements
  • Refinery - Fell into Tank $11,500,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Death | Net to Client: $6,842,546.09 | Attorney Fees: $3,500,000.00 | Expenses: $157,453.91

  • Premises Negligence $10,750,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Head Injury | Net to Client: $7,166,666.67 | Attorney Fees: $3,583,333.33 | Expenses: $0

  • 18 Wheeler $9,660,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Death | Net to Client: $6,337,277.94 | Attorney Fees: $3,197,915.63 | Expenses: $124,806.43

  • 18 Wheeler $9,000,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Head Injury | Net to Client: $5,069,061.09 | Attorney Fees: $3,600,000.00 } Expenses: $330,938.91

  • Defective Truck $8,200,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Death | Net to Client: $6,308,812.01 | Attorney Fees: $1,840,544.68 | Expenses: $50,643.31

  • Premises Liability $7,810,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Rape | Net to Client: $5,156,632.89 | Attorney Fees: $2,602,943.48 | Expenses: $50,423.63

  • Seat-belt/Rollover $7,535,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Brain Injury | Net to Client: $4,037,523.89 | Attorney Fees: $3,014,000.00 | Expenses: $483,476.11

  • 18 Wheeler $7,000,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Death/Serious Injury | Net to Client: $4,094,098.23 | Attorney Fees: $2,800,000.00 | Expenses: $105,901.77

  • Seatback Failure $6,625,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Head Injury | Net to Client: $3,414,561.37 | Attorney Fees: $2,650,000.00 | Expenses: $560,438.63

  • Oilfield Accident $5,842,228.75 Total Recovery

    Injury: Death | Net to Client: $3,441,771.42 | Attorney Fees: $2,314,953.94 | Expenses: $85,703.38

  • Tire Defect/Seatbelt $5,820,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Death/Head/Ortho | Net to Client: $2,917,287.51 | Attorney Fees: $2,328,000.00 | Expenses: $574,712.49

  • Products/Medical Malpractice $5,629,000 Total Recovery

    Injury: Paraplegic | Net to Client: $2,987,859.17 | Attorney Fees: $2,251,600.00 | Expenses: $389,540.83


Why Hire Our Firm?

  • Client-Focused

    For our firm, it is not about the money - we take profound joy in helping our clients get the recoveries they deserve.

  • Highly Qualified

    William R. Edwards & William R. Edwards III are Board Certified® by The Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

  • Advocates for Ethics

    We are leaders in advocating for ethical conduct by attorneys practicing in the field of personal injury.

  • Strong Case Results

    We are not afraid to go to trial & have recovered millions of dollars in recoveries for our clients.

  • Community-Focused

    We are committed to affecting real change both within our community and across the nation.

  • Experienced Team

    The Edwards Law Firm has been in practice and taking personal injury cases since 1962.

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