FactBox: History of Recent Major U.S. Energy Incidents

A fire at an offshore oil platform run by Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations LLC on Friday, which injured at least four people, is the latest accident to hit the U.S. energy industry.

Below is a list of major incidents at U.S. energy facilities since 2010.

Sept 2 – An offshore production rig operated by Mariner Energy in the Gulf of Mexico had a fire, forcing the immediate evacuation of 13 personnel and a major rescue response — currently in progress — from the U.S. Coast Guard, which said it identified an oil sheen at the site. The company had recently been producing around 1,400 barrels of crude and 9.2 million cubic feet per day of natural gas at the site.

July 26 – The Enbridge 6B crude pipeline, capacity 190,000 barrels per day, ruptured in Michigan and spilled more than 19,000 barrels into local waterways in one of the largest U.S. pipeline disasters ever. The pipeline remains closed and has affected some refinery operations across the U.S. Midwest.

June 7 – A natural gas pipeline explosion on a line owned by Enterprise Product Partners in North Texas killed one person. The 36-inch (91-cm) pipeline exploded 15 miles (24 km) south of Godley, Texas. An electrical crew was digging a hole when it struck the gas pipeline. Enterprise violated several state regulations including adequately marking the path of the pipeline, according to the Texas Railroad Commission.

June 7 – An explosion and resulting fireball burned seven members of a crew drilling for natural gas at an abandoned coal mine in West Virginia, the second big fire at an energy project in the region in less than a week.

June 4 – Workers capped a natural gas well in central Pennsylvania after it ruptured during drilling, spewing gas and drilling fluid 75 feet (23 meters) in the air. The well, operated by EOG Resources Inc blew out when a drilling team was preparing to extract gas. No one was killed or injured, but officials later ordered the company to halt natural gas drilling in the state.

April 20 – Explosion and fire on Transocean Ltd’s drilling rig Deepwater Horizon licensed to BP; 11 workers were killed on the rig stationed in deep waters south of Louisiana. The runaway oil well spilled up to 4.9 million barrels before it could be capped in mid-July, according to government estimates, making it the worst offshore oil spill in history.

April 5 – An explosion at the Upper Big Branch coal mine in Montcoal, West Virginia, killed 29 miners in the deadliest U.S. mining disaster since 1972. The mine owned by Massey Energy has had a worse-than-average injury rate over the last 10 years, with three fatalities since 1998.

April 2 – Four workers died in a blaze at Tesoro Corp’s refinery in Anacortes, Washington, in the worst U.S. refining disaster since 2005. The fire resulted from equipment failure in a highly flammable unit producing naphtha at the plant.

March 2 – A fire on an asphalt tank under construction killed two workers at Holly Corp’s Navajo refinery in Artesia, New Mexico.

April 19 -Chesapeake Energy suspended the use of hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania after a well blowout spilled toxic fluid into a local waterway. Chesapeake used a mix of plastic, ground-up tires and heavy mud to plug the well – an operation that echoed BP’s “top kill” effort to seal its ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well the previous year.

Feb 22 – Chesapeake Energy shut its wells at a natural gas drilling site in the Marcellus Shale in western Pennsylvania, after a fire injured three workers. The blaze, which raged for three hours, was caused by a flash fire in storage tanks used to hold natural gas liquids at the Powers well site in Avella, operated by Chesapeake subsidiary Chesapeake Appalachia LLC.

Jan 5 – A drilling rig in Sweetwater, Oklahoma, owned by Chesapeake Energy subsidiary Nomac Drilling, caught fire after unexpectedly hitting a pocket of natural gas near the surface. No injuries were reported, though local officials in the town 130 miles west of Oklahoma City left the escaping natural gas to flare.


Nov 16 – A Gulf of Mexico offshore energy platform operated by Houston-based Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations LLC burst into flames, leaving at least two people missing.

Oct. 29 – Hurricane Sandy slammed into the U.S. northeast causing widespread outages and damage. Some 7,700 gallons of fuel spilled from Phillips 66’s Bayway refinery in Linden, New Jersey following the storm.

Aug 6 – A massive fire struck at the core of Chevron Corp’s large Richmond, California, refinery, spewing flames and a column of smoke into the air. The refinery has been shut for the remainder of the year.

Source: Reuters

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