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BSEE Panel Releases Investigation Report on Fatality on Khamsin Drillship, Recommends Added Safety Measures


NEW ORLEANS − The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) today released its panel investigation report on an August 23, 2020, incident that resulted in a fatality on the Pacific Khamsin Drillship in the Gulf of Mexico. The drillship was under contract with Total E&P USA, conducting well operations in Garden Banks Block 1003, approximately 174 miles offshore Louisiana when the incident occurred.

The BSEE mission is to promote safety, protect the environment, and conserve resources offshore through vigorous regulatory oversight and enforcement. The primary goal of every BSEE incident investigation is to determine the cause(s) of the incident.  The agency can then work to minimize the likelihood that a similar incident will occur in the future.

The panel, which included BSEE subject matter experts, engineers, inspectors, and specialized investigators, conducted its investigation to determine the cause and contributing factors that led to the fatality of a rig floor crewmember operating a hydraulic torque wrench while attempting to extract bolts from a telescopic joint flange.

After a thorough investigation and analysis, BSEE found that among other contributing factors, a lack of training with hydraulic torque wrenches and a lack of understanding of the risks associated with the riser, and a failure to initiate a stop work authority contributed to this incident. Based on its findings, BSEE has issued a safety alert to the industry which recommends that operators and contractors ensure the Job Safety Analysis captures the limitations of the hydraulic torque wrench when in use, verify all employees understand the Job Safety Analysis and have been formally trained on operating the hydraulic torque wrench, expand the Drill Floor Observer responsibilities to monitor all aspects of jobs occurring on the rig floor, and explore options for employing a load indicator, or a similar design mechanism onto the HUW package.

The BSEE Safety Alert can be found here.

To read more about the panel investigation, including BSEE’s recommendations, the full report can be found here.

BSEE's National Investigations Program is administered by its Safety and Incident Investigations Division in Washington, D.C. Panel investigations, an integral tool for improving both safety and environmental protection, are chaired by division and regional staff, and conducted in coordination with region and district staff.

Under authority outlined in the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), BSEE conducts investigations and issues reports on deaths, serious injuries, and pollution events that occur as the result of offshore oil and gas operations.  These investigations support Bureau-wide programs that promote safety, environmental protection, and resource conservation. More information and a list of previous investigations and incident reports can be found at our Safety & Incident Investigations website.