Massive bolts on these wells are failing and could lead to major oil leaks and injuries on Texas coast.
Massive bolts used to connect subsea equipment on offshore wells are failing. This issue is calling into question the safety of the workers on oil rigs and platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. The Department of the Interior initially investigated the matter in 2013 after General Electric (GE) issued a recall around the world for faulty bolts that had corroded and in some cases snapped on a component.
GE is not the only company with the bolt failure as additional companies have been identified that have flaws in their bolts as well.
Why is This Dangerous?
Failure of one of these massive bolts could have catastrophic consequences including oil spills as well as injuries and fatalities of workers. The associate director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement at the Interior Department had this to say to the Wall Street Journal:
“This is what we view as a very critical safety issue,” said Allyson Anderson Book, associate director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement at the Interior Department. “If your smallest component fails, you can’t expect a sophisticated many-million-dollar piece of equipment to hold fast and prevent a leak.”
Any Fix Being Worked on?
The deep underwater environment that these bolts are placed in is harsh and unforgiving. The issue is complex and there are multiple considerations in determining how to protect the bolts and prevent them from breaking, as reported in Tech Times:
“Manufacturers and regulators said that several factors could be behind the bolt failures. A working group is currently looking into metallurgical data to know if the alloys that are used in the heavy steel bolts are hard enough to survive the harsh environment underwater and if the coatings that are used on the bolts are appropriate.”
They are also studying if “over-torquing,” which happens when subcontractors excessively tighten the fasteners, causes them to weaken. GE said that over-torquing is possibly a factor that contributed to its bolt failures.”
If you or a loved one have been injured while working on a drilling rig, whether an offshore or land based rig, contact The Callahan Law Firm today for a free case evaluation.