Agency: Company needs to improve offshore safety

Associated Press Modified: November 21, 2012 at 4:01 pm •  Published: November 21, 2012
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BSEE said it ordered Black Elk to submit a performance improvement plan by Dec. 15. And the bureau outlined several steps that must be taken to improve safety. Those include an end to "hot work" on facilities until the company can demonstrate "that steps have been taken, and a safety manager is in place whose responsibility it will be to improve hazard identification, training, and oversight for such operations."

Hot work is work that can produce flames, sparks or a source of ignition — such as welding or grinding. The Coast Guard said Friday that a torch was in use at the time of the accident. Grand Isle Shipyard Inc., a subcontractor that was doing maintenance on the platform, has said a welding torch was not in use at the time of the accident.

Other steps outlined by BSEE include keeping the site of Friday's fire shut down, along with other Black Elk facilities where operations have been stopped, or "shut in." BSEE estimated that 41 Black Elk sites are shut in for various reasons.

Friday's accident was on a production platform in shallow water off Louisiana's coast, but it was not producing oil at the time and did not result in a continuous leak of oil, unlike the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.