Sep 25, 2014 - Articles - by Dodson & Hooks, APLC
The U.S. House of Representatives is currently considering a new bill that could help make it safer to work on offshore gas and oil rigs. If implemented, the bill would call for standby boats that must be available within three nautical miles of all active rigs.
New Iberia Rep. Jeff Landry sponsored the bill. If passed, it would signify the first approved precaution since the BP oil spill in 2010.
Those in the gas and oil business are against the legislation because they feel it’s unnecessary and too expensive. On the other hand, the marine industry supports the bill because of the potential for new business. In addition, both the maritime and oil and gas industries in Louisiana are significant contributors to Congress.
“It puts members from Louisiana in a real pickle because two of the most important industry groups for our state are on opposing sides,” an unidentified aide to a Louisiana member told the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Proponents of the legislation say that it will help keep rig workers safe, especially in the case of a serious accident, such as the blowout in April 2011 of BP’s Deepwater Horizon. That accident killed 11 people, while 115 others were saved by a supply boat that, luckily, just happened to be near the rig.
According to the proposed legislation, a standby boat must be present within three miles of any rig that is plugging, drilling or performing similar actions. If other less dangerous work is being performed, then the vessels would be allowed as far as 12 nautical miles away.
There is opposition to the bill even within Congress – and one House Republican wants further study to determine if having rescue boats on standby is even necessary.
“Here’s the problem with Congress,” said Landry. “Every time we have a problem no one has the gall to deal with it. Instead, they want to punt and do a study.”