KATC Investigates

Jul 9, 2013 8:01 PM by Tina Macias

Owner of leaking well has history of natural gas spills

Energy Resource Technology Gulf of Mexico, LLC has been cited by regulators twice for leaking natural gas into the Gulf of Mexico, according to Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement documents. BSEE cited the Houston-based company for a "pollution event" in 2007 and noted a "loss of well control" event in 2008.

One of ERT's wells located about 74 miles southwest of Port Fourchon began leaking natural gas on Monday and, according to inspectors, natural gas is flowing from the well and there is a 4-mile wide rainbow sheen visible on the surface.

BSEE fined ERT $135,000 in 2008 after a May 2007 pollution event resulted from a lack of safety testing that caused leaking gas. In August 2008, equipment failure caused natural gas to spill out of one of the company's platforms.

BSEE has also investigated several accidents on ERT platforms, including at least three fatalities and three fires since 2005.

  • According to BSEE documents, the accidents include incidents where:
  • A worker was killed on Aug. 16, 2011 during a crane accident.
  • A passenger and pilot were killed on Feb. 12, 2007 after a helicopter operated by an ERT contractor struck a platform.
  • A worker was injured on Oct. 17, 2011 when a water blast punctured his foot.
  • A welder was injured on Aug. 22, 2012 after his error caused him to be knocked unconscious by a gas pocket ignition.
  • A worker sustained an arm injury due to a fall on Aug. 10, 2012 after his safety harness unexpectedly moved.
  • A fire on April 17, 2010 that lasted 30 minutes with no injuries. BSEE concluded the fire was due to operators skipping a safety step. A safety alert was issued.
  • A fire and explosion on March 10, 2010 due to equipment failure that the operator knew about, according to BSEE. ERT was fined $105,000 in the incident.
  • A lead operator broke his arm on Oct. 23, 2008 due to equipment failure that BSEE said could have been prevented by following safety standards.
  • An operator was injured after he fell 12 feet through an open hole March 20, 2008. BSEE found that the safety meeting that proceeded the job made no mention of fall protection or hole watch.
  • A fire on Aug. 13, 2005 caused one injury after equipment failed. BSEE found the fire was caused because the welder was working in a tight, confined case.

According to BSEE, no one was injured in Monday's incident and the platform was not producing. Energy Resource Technology GOM, Inc., is a subsidiary of Talos Energy LLC, a Houston-based oil and gas company. Talos purchased ERT from Helix Energy Solutions Group of Houston in February, according to Helix.

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