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Semi-Submersible Rig Accident in North Sea Kills One Worker and Injures Two Others

The North Sea has been ravaged by the winter storm “Frank” (a hurricane force system) over the past several days. These conditions have le led numerous companies, including BP and ConocoPhillips, to stop production and evacuate personnel.

But, the worst part of the storm was the loss of one worker’s life and injuries to two others when a wave hit a China Oilfield Services Ltd (COSL) semi-submersible drilling rig. The rig had been drilling in the Troll gas field under contract to Statoil, a Norwegian oil company, but had been taken off of the well when the wave hit the rig.

This semi-submersible rig accident raises questions about the type of equipment being used at the time of the accident.

What is a Semi-Submersible Drilling Rig?

A semi-submersible is an innovative rig design that utilizes underwater pontoons to support a rig while it drills in a particular location, often in deep water. The rig equipment and personnel quarters are above the water and mooring lines anchor the rig to the sea floor.

Semi-submersibles offer the advantage of increased stability in rougher waters and generally speaking, the ability to withstand storm force conditions. The ability to float also allows for more flexibility in selecting locations for drilling.

Of critical importance for offshore accident litigation, semi-submersibles have the ability to move under their own power. This has led to their classification as “vessels” under maritime law. This in turn means that workers on semi-submersibles who are injured get the protections of maritime law and the Jones Act, allowing them to file suit against their employers and the vessel owner and to recover maintenance and cure for their injuries.

Even with the safety features built into to the design of semi-submersibles, accidents still happen. In fact, the most high profile maritime case of the past decade, the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon, involved a semi-submersible drilling rig.

New Orleans Offshore Injury Lawyer

If you’ve been injured while working offshore, whether on a semi-submersible drilling rig or a vessel, The Mahone Firm is here to help. Call (504) 564-7342 to discuss your case with a maritime lawyer today. There is no charge for a case consultation.


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