Congress mulls passing bill mandating rescue vessels for offshore rigs
When the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig caught fire and exploded in April of 2010, more than 100 workers were on board. Eleven of them perished in the conflagration, but over 100 were rescued — yet almost by accident, rather than by design.A bill now awaiting a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives would make such rescues almost a certainty. It would require rescue boats to be stationed within three nautical miles of offshore gas or oil rigs or platforms.
In the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, a supply boat happened to be near the rig, which was drilling in waters about 60 miles off the coast of Louisiana when it exploded
This boat, the Damon Bankston, was able to rescue most of the 115 offshore workers who had to abandon the fiery rig. If not for the supply boat’s proximity, many more workers might have died.
Rep. Jeff Landy (R-LA) wants to ensure such rescues can be made. That’s why the rescue boat bill that the freshman Louisiana legislator sponsors would address safety concerns arising in the wake of Deepwater Horizon, owned by disgraced British energy corporation BP.
The bill is getting its share of resistance, as many bills do. The energy industry which spends billions in order to earn billions by drilling offshore believes such a law isn’t needed since the Coast Guard can launch rescue operations after such a disaster, often by means of helicopters which are faster than boats.
The energy sector also points to the higher operating costs which would be caused by keeping rescue boats nearby.
But under the bill, rescue boats wouldn’t need to be stationed nearby unless a rig was performing major operations, such as drilling, plugging, work-over or abandonment. And if operations were less significant or potentially hazardous, a rescue boat could be stationed up to 12 nautical miles away.
In other words, if two or more rigs were all located within 24 nautical miles of each other, a single rescue boat for all could remain stationed among them. Landy’s bill allows for rescue boats to be at the service of more than one rig at a time.
Landy’s legislation is part of a broader Coast Guard bill and would allow energy companies a year to take the appropriate actions.
Maritime firms are in favor of the legislation, since they’d gain well-paying new contracts to provide such rescue boats.
Are you an offshore worker? If so and you were injured on an offshore rig, whether you needed a rescue boat or not, we can help.
Call 1-800-566-3434 to alert a Jones Act lawyer
or maritime attorney with our legal service, which you also can contact by means of our website’s free consultation form. Then let us get started helping you with your offshore injury accident case.
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