BSEE Cites GOM Contractors for Violations

The Bureau of Safety Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) issued over a two-week period six Incidents of Noncompliance (INCs) to four offshore contractors working in the Gulf of Mexico for violations of federal regulations related to oil and gas operations.

ENSCO Drilling, Nabors Offshore Corporation, Alliance Oilfield Services, Island Operators Co. Inc. and ERT GOM Inc. are among the companies that were issued INCs by BSEE from early February to early March. The contractors have 60 days to appeal the INCs, BSEE said in a March 15 statement. The violations will be reviewed for possible civil penalty statements.

ENSCO was issued an INC for operating for at least seven days with a faulty blowout preventer control system and did not cease well operations during this period as required. Nabors was cited after a worker was seriously injured due to personnel's failure to determine whether an electricity source was on or off before an attempt to place a 30-amp plug into a receptacle. The BSEE inspector also found personnel were not wearing proper protective attire.

A civil penalty of up to $40,000 per violation per day can be assessed if the operator fails to correct the violation in the reasonable amount of time specified on the INC, or the violation resulted in a threat of serious harm or damage to human life or the environment, according to BSEE's website.

The INCs issued are part of BSEE's crackdown on contractors operating on the Outer Continental Shelf following the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident. BSEE first exercised its authority to issue an INC to a contractor in October 2011 when Transocean and Halliburton received INCs related to Deepwater Horizon.

"While the primary focus of BSEE's enforcement actions will continue to be on lessees and operators, BSEE will, in appropriate circumstances, issue incidents of noncompliance to contractors for serious violations of BSEE regulations," BSEE said Aug. 15, 2012, when it issued its Interim Policy Document on issuing INCs to contractors working on the OCS. "The issuance of an INC to a contractor does not relieve the lessees from liability. In fact, in instances in which INCs are issued to a
contractor, INCs will also be issued to the lessee or operator."

The violations cited in an INC must be corrected within 14 days or a plan of corrective action has to be submitted. In the case of an accident or a one-time event where the conditions of the violation no longer exist, the contractors are being asked to document how the violation took place and what is being done to prevent its reoccurrence.


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