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BSEE issues safety alert based on drillship fatality findings

A lack of training with hydraulic torque wrenches and a lack of understanding of the risks associated with the riser were among the major contributing factors that resulted in a fatality on the Pacific Khamsin drillship, according to a new report from the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). BSEE’s panel investigation report on the 23 August 2020 incident in the Gulf of Mexico also cited a failure to initiate a stop work authority as another contributing factor.

The drillship was under contract with Total E&P, conducting well operations in Garden Banks Block 1003, approximately 174 miles offshore Louisiana when the incident occurred. It resulted in the fatality of a rig floor crew member who was operating a hydraulic torque wrench while attempting to extract bolts from a telescopic joint flange.

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 panel included BSEE subject matter experts, engineers, inspectors and specialized investigators.

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

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