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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger

How Many People Died in Oil Rig Explosions Each Year? | Important Facts

Offshore workers are often exposed to a wide range of hazards while working. Even a small gas leak could result in devastating consequences for a person.


Oil rig explosions are rare, as oil companies are required by law to enforce safety precautions at all times. Still, there have been a few accidents throughout history that have left numerous fatalities and injuries.


The following page covers recent statistics about accidents in the oil and gas industry. It also goes over the most impactful disasters in the world involving natural gas and oil facilities.



Oil Rig Accident Statistics


Oil Rig Accident Statistics


It can be tricky to tell how many people have died from oil rig explosions every year, as there are many sources to consider.


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released a graphic in 2021 related to fatal occupational injuries in several industries, including oil and gas. According to the report, at least 58 people experienced fatal injuries. This number is significantly lower than the one in 2017, 2018, and 2019. There were 81, 94, and 104 fatal injuries, respectively.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its 2017 report, there were at least 69 fatalities surrounding the oil and gas industry. 44 of these fatalities came from Texas.


Another report from the CDC states that at least 1,189 oil and gas workers died in the United States between 2003 and 2013. This translates into about 108 deaths each year or an average yearly rate of 25 fatalities per 100,000 workers.


Finally, a report from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) states that there were at least 33 offshore oil rig explosions between 2007 and 2018, which is alarming.


This industry is one of the leading players in the U.S. economy. It's also responsible for employing a lot of people, especially in Texas. Unfortunately, this industry also comes with plenty of hazards, which include defective equipment, poor working conditions, and more.


Even though fatalities from oil rig explosions aren't necessarily common, they still happen every year. It's important to keep this information at hand to understand the risks of working in said industry.



What Are Some Common Causes of Accidents in the Oil Industry?


There are many reasons why someone can get into an accident involving an oil rig. This section covers some of the most common ones:


Slip and Fall

It's essential for site managers to keep all decks dry. Due to the substances that workers have to deal with, it's not uncommon for the decks to get slippery. Some companies try to save money by forcing workers to perform faster on slippery floors, increasing the likelihood of getting into an accident.


Dangerous Substances and Chemicals

Most workers will come into contact with toxic fumes and harmful chemicals each day. Whether it's production chemicals, solvents, or drilling fluid, getting exposed to these elements can lead to fatal illnesses.


Transportation Accidents

In some cases, an oil worker will depend on aircraft to get to different oil rig locations. Extreme weather conditions or faulty transportation equipment could make the travel more dangerous than it already is.


Defective Equipment

Oil rig workers must deal with heavy machinery frequently. Not being able to handle this equipment correctly will already increase the chances of getting into an accident, but not maintaining said equipment in good condition could also cause fatal injuries.


Explosions and Fires

These are among the most dangerous accidents oil rig workers can experience. There are plenty of flammable materials in oil rigs, which can lead to a catastrophic event if the company doesn't enforce enough safety measures for its workers.


Is It Possible to Die After an Oil Rig Explosion?

Yes, it's possible for a person to die after an oil rig explosion. Thankfully, the fatality rate isn't as high compared to the injury rate, but that doesn't mean that workers are safe at all times.



What Are the Most Devastating Accidents Involving Offshore Oil Rigs?


Several of the deaths mentioned in the statistics came from large-scale indicents. There are about seven main catastrophic events that show how important it is for companies today to enforce favorable working conditions for everyone.


Deepwater Horizon Disaster

The Deepwater Horizon incident was one of the worst ones on the list. It was responsible for causing the largest oil spill in history. The oil rig, owned by Transocean, got plenty of reports from workers related to faulty equipment and safety concerns before the accident.


On April 20, 2010, there was a sudden burst of natural gas. The Deepwater Horizon explosion caused 11 fatalities, as well as the spill of four million oil barrels into the Gulf of Mexico.


BP spent over $14 billion to clean up everything between 2010 and 2015, and it also paid out several claims filed by nearby states that suffered damage from the spill. All of the expenses combined added up to more than $65 billion in losses for BP.


Ocean Ranger

It was a mobile offshore drilling rig responsible for operating in Canadian waters. At the time, it was drilling a well on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. However, it was hit by a storm, which broke a portside window and sank the platform.


The Ocean Ranger event caused the deaths of all 84 crew members who were on the platform. All of the lawsuits filed by family members added up to $20 million in damages.


Alexander L. Kielland

It was also a semi-submersible platform like the Ocean Ranger. The accident happened on March 27, 1980, when extreme winds caused one of the platform's legs to fail.


Overall, the bracing in one of the legs stopped working, which caused more structural failures. This caused the platform to tilt 30 degrees and capsize. Only 89 out of the 212 workers on the platform survived. Most of the fatalities were from drowning.


The event happened because the company failed to identify a crack on one of the leg's bracings.


Piper Alpha

Piper Alpha's disaster is considered the worst one in history. It happened on July 6, 1988, and it caused the death of 167 workers.


According to reports, the accident happened due to communication errors. This caused a gas leakage, which triggered several explosions. The fires that came from those explosions took almost three weeks to get under control. Only 61 people out of a team of 226 survived.


The total insured loss was approximately $1.4 billion. About $200 million was used to compensate the families of the victims. Besides being the biggest oil disaster in history, it was also one of the costliest man-made accidents to ever happen.


Bohai 2

The Bohai 2 accident happened in November 1979. This oil rig was being towed between China and Korea. Unfortunately, a severe storm caused waves to crash over the deck and damage it.


Due to the damages, the rig started to flood and eventually capsize. 72 out of 76 workers died.


According to reports, the deaths happened because of a lack of training regarding lifesaving equipment.


Mumbai High North

This platform collided with a support vessel, causing a fire to break out. The event happened on July 27, 2005, and it started because of a cook getting injured.


The Mumbai High North accident killed 22 people and also caused a considerable oil spill and gas leak. This caused severe production losses in the area.


DS Seacrest

DS Seacrest's accident was one of the few that got triggered by natural disasters only. Here, a cyclone caused the platform to sink. Only six out of the 97 crew members survived. The cyclone also caused 800 deaths around the Gulf of Thailand.


Even though Unocal, the owners of the ship, were sued by four of the survivors, the lawsuit didn't go through. The report mentions that the ship was in good working order and operating within its design limits.


Can Injured Oil Rig Workers Seek Compensation?

Can Injured Oil Rig Workers Seek Compensation?


Workers who get injured due to unsafe working conditions or other related circumstances may be entitled to compensation. These people should gather as much evidence as possible surrounding the event and seek help from a legal professional.


Most of the time, the oil company won't admit liability right away, which can lead to the injured person paying out of pocket for their medical treatment. By hiring oil rig accident lawyers, these victims can create a better strategy to get these companies to pay, ensuring peace of mind during these difficult times.


Bottom Line


There are many circumstances surrounding oil rig explosions and accidents in general. It's the responsibility of companies to promote a safer environment to perform tasks instead of forcing people to work faster under dangerous conditions. Contact Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys for more questions like How do oil rig accidents happen?


An oil and gas lease will likely include provisions on the land that's being explored, so corporations need to review these terms and ensure there are safe working conditions for everyone involved before signing.


Offshore worker fatalities are devastating enough for surviving family members, it's not fair to add up the financial stress that comes with those events on top of emotional damage.


Those interested in seeking compensation for oil rig injuries or fatalities can schedule a free case evaluation with Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys. These experts will "go to war" for their clients and ensure everyone gets justice for what happened.

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