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Feds Demand Black Elk Energy Improve Performance or Risk Losing Operating Permit

Headlines - LPB - Louisiana Public Broadcasting

Entry Date: November 21, 2012
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Description: The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has sent Black Elk Offshore Operations, LLC a letter warning them that they could face serious penalties, if they don't immediately improve their operating performance. That's after a series of issues the company has been cited for over the last couple of years. Among them, the explosion last week that claimed the life of at least one worker. Another is still missing and four are suffering from severe burns.

Prior to that, the company had been cited in October 2012 with 45 counts of Non-Compliance at nine facilities in the South Marsh Island Area of the Gulf of Mexico. That's in Iberia Parish, Louisiana.

In October of 2011, six Black Elk workers were hospitalized after the use of an acid-based chemical for treating a well at High Island 571A, which is off the coast of Texas.

BSEE has ordered Black Elk to work swiftly to solve the following problems.

1. Keep all facilities that currently are in a shut-in status in such status until it provides BSEE with documentation of the corrective actions taken to safely return each facility into operational status to BSEE's satisfaction.

2. Notify the appropriate District Office at least 48 hours prior to returning these facilities to production to allow for the proper BSEE inspection.

3. Immediately cease hot work on its facilities until it demonstrates to BSEE's satisfaction 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.

4. Develop a performance improvement plan that at a minimum:

a. Provides documentation to BSEE that Black Elk has complied with the requirements of 30 C.F.R. Subpart S;

b. Initiates an independent third-party audit of Black Elk's Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS) program in accordance with 30 C.F.R. ยง 250.1925(a). Such audits must begin no later than January 31, 2013; and

c. Integrates BSEE auditors into the third-party audit team.

5. Submit the plan and scope of the audit(s) referenced in paragraph 4 above for approval by BSEE no later than December 15, 2012.

6. Within 30 days, provide an analysis of all INCs issued to Black Elk since 2010 and document patterns and actions taken by Black Elk to change processes or procedures to prevent similar incidents on other facilities.

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