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The Usumacinta Jack-up Disaster: One of The Worst in History

No one ever said that working on an off-shore oil platform was safe. However, by taking appropriate safety precautions, the most catastrophic accidents can usually be avoided. The key word here is usually. Unfortunately, there’s no way to completely safeguard against a disaster when dealing with massive machinery, unpredictable ocean conditions and highly flammable gas and oil.

In one such oil rig accident, the Usumacinta Jack-up disaster, dangerous and uncontrollable sea conditions led to the fiery death of 22 workers on a Gulf of Mexico oil rig.

What happened in the Usumacinta Jack-up disaster?

More than a decade has passed since a tragic oil rig accident that was so severe the world will never forget it. In October 2007, the Usumacinta Jack-up disaster claimed the lives of 22 oil rig workers in the Gulf of Mexico when a Jack-up oil rig collided with a Kab-101 oil drilling platform.

The collision happened while the Usumacinta Jack-up was anchored beside the Kab-101 platform to drill a well for the Kab-103. An 80 mph storm with waves as high as 8 meters caused the deck of the Usumacinta Jack-up to strike Kab-101’s “valve tree.” A massive oil and gas leak ensued and the rig workers were unable to completely seal the valves. The platform erupted in flames and 21 people were discovered dead on the facility. Another person was missing and presumed dead.

In the following month, the Usumacinta Jack-up had two more fires which were successfully contained without any further deaths. The well lost approximately 5,000 barrels of oil in the disaster and never recovered.

There’s no way to know when disaster will strike at sea

Unfortunately, there’s no way to predict when violent weather conditions will strike at sea. These weather conditions arrive with little warning and it may be impossible to evacuate an oil rig before the conditions strike.

Nevertheless, there are certain safety precautions that the managers and owners of oil rigs and drilling platforms must adhere to. Failure to adhere to these safety procedures could lead to the liability of oil drilling companies in the event of a disaster. As such, victims — and family members of the deceased — in such events might be able to pursue legal claims against negligent companies following these tragic maritime incidents.

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