The results seem to be in, and they do not look good for the safety of offshore oil and gas workers. After reviewing federal records, a Washington-based liberal think tank noted that the federal government’s loosening of safety restrictions on offshore oil and gas operations has led to an increased number of worker deaths and decreases in inspections.
The Center for American Progress reviewed the statistics of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) – the federal agency that regulates offshore drilling – and found a few alarming details. Since the BSEE has yet to release its 2019 statistics regarding offshore incidents, the Center for American Progress delved into the records.
At least nine deaths in 2019
When researching reported injuries on oil and gas rigs on the Outer Continental Shelf, the Center for American Progress discovered injury rates increased 21% in the two-year period of 2018 and 2019 compared with 2016 and 2017. The tally includes injuries requiring medical treatment, but not self-inflicted injuries or ailments due to natural causes or illnesses.
And according to analysis by a New Orleans news organization, at least nine offshore oil workers died while on the job in 2019. The nine fatalities top the number of worker deaths in the combined previous five years. The BSEE reported that a single fatality occurred in each year from 2014 to 2018. The agency has yet to release official 2019 statistics.
Fewer inspections made as well
In addition, the Center for American Progress discovered that BSEE inspections-related trips to offshore facilities dropped 13%. The agency made nearly 2,000 fewer visits from 2017 to 2019 compared with the three-year period between 2014 to 2016. Also, enforcement actions against gas and oil operators dropped significantly.