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Oil Ship Loses Power in Gulf; Production Shut In

A floating offshore oil production ship briefly lost power on March 28, drifted from its location, and spilled a small amount of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The Helix Producer I is a special oil production ship that stays connected to subsea wells to process crude oil being extracted. It uses a sophisticated computer system to maintain its position in the water. Owned by Talos Energy, the ship lost power at approximately 1:30 p.m. on March 28. Without electricity it drifted out of position, causing it to disconnect from the well below. As a result, a small amount of oil spilled, which Talos estimated was less than a gallon.

Despite the mishap, the company says that the emergency systems worked exactly according to plan. Once the ship drifts more than 17 feet out of position, the ship automatically disconnects from the well. David Blackmon, a spokesperson for Talos Energy said, “I am happy to say that everything worked the way it was supposed to work.” An official from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement at the Department of Interior concurred with that assessment. Power was restored to the ship a few hours later on March 28, but the ship will remain out of production until federal investigators can inspect it and approve a restart.

Related Article: BP Return to Gulf of Mexico Marks U.S. Energy Sea Change

While the incident is considered a minor occurrence, Talos Energy has a history of safety troubles. There have been ten fatalities since the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010, and two of them have occurred on platforms owned by Talos Energy. BSEE put Talos Energy on a Performance Improvement Plan, with only one other company designated with such a status. Participating in a Performance Improvement Plan is sort of like being on probation – they have a chance to improve their operations. If they do not, their authorization to operate can be revoked.

By Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com


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