Feds investigating Gulf rig fatality

Operations on the drillship Pacific Santa Ana have been shut down as the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) investigates a fatality on the drillship that occurred Tuesday.

The Pacific Santa Ana, owned by Houston-based Pacific Drilling and contracted by Chevron, was beginning drilling operations for Chevron in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 200 miles south of Lake Charles, La., in 4,800 feet of water when the incident occurred.

The Houston Chronicle reported that the deceased was a Pacific Drilling employee, and that the incident occurred at about 10:15 a.m. No other injuries were reported.

In a statement released to the Houston Chronicle, Pacific Drilling said “prayers and thoughts are with the family of our colleague and our Pacific Drilling family closely associated with him” and added that the company was “actively addressing the needs of [the worker’s]family and the affected employees.”

The Pacific Santa Ana was built to Chevron’s specifications and contracted to the company for five years beginning in May 2012. When it began operations, Chevron said it was “the first drillship designed with the capacity to perform dual gradient drilling.” Dual gradient drilling employees two weights of drilling fluid, one above the seabed and one below, in an effort to mimic the pressures present in nature and facilitate deepwater drilling.

BSEE and Coast Guard inspectors were traveling to the drillship on Tuesday to begin taking statements and collecting evidence for their investigation.

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Ashley Herriman

Ashley Herriman is WorkBoat's online editor.

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