Oil Rig Accidents

Oil Rig Explotions

Oil Rig Injuries

Royal Dutch Shell

Royal Dutch Shell, also known commonly as simply Shell, is one of the largest gas and oil companies in the world. It operates globally with a presence in most major countries. At last count, it had operations in 90 different countries. It operates in all three major segments of the oil industry including upstream, downstream, and corporate, according to the New York Times. These include exploration, project development, and the production of crude oil into gasoline and other products.


Shell was started in 1833, not as an oil company but instead was begun as an antique shop that also sold shells. The business was the humble beginnings of an import export company. During the late 1800s, the company began to transport oil through the Suez Canal and also stored it in the Far East. This was the start of the petroleum industry as we know it today. It began the bulk transport of petroleum throughout the world.

During the early 1900s, the Shell Transport and Trading Company merged with Royal Dutch Petroleum to form Royal Dutch Shell. Since then, the company has grown exponentially and is known as an industry leader the world over.

Nationwide Strike

In 2015, United Steelworkers (USW) walked off the job in a strike of refineries across the United States. The last strike that shut down refineries occurred back in 1980, more than 30 years ago. Workers had rallies at more than 60 locations across the country. The strike was an effort to stop unfair work practices, improve safety for workers, and increase wages. The action was meant to spur negotiations with U.S. refinery owners led by Royal Dutch Shell. Among the safety issues were complaints concerning a major refinery fire in which more than 15,000 residents in Richmond were sent to the hospital with injuries including many with smoke inhalation.

Kulluk Accident

One of the most serious of all Shell accidents occurred when the Kulluk suffered an accident. It was the first company to explore the Arctic for oil. Although the conditions were dangerous, the company’s main rig, Kulluk, was being towed when the line broke and an emergency situation ensued. Eventually, the U.S. Coast Guard was needed to assist. The weather deteriorated, and the mission failed. The rig had to be let go, and it went aground, slamming into an Aleutian island. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, Shell took unnecessary risks by traveling into dangerous waters in an attempt to avoid taxes in Alaska. The rig was transported to Asia after having run aground off the Alaskan coast.

Brutus Oil Spill

In 2016, Shell oil rig Brutus suffered a significant spill. Brutus is a subsea infrastructure that was located in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 97 miles south of Port Fourchon, La. The rig developed a leak that resulted in a large oil slick. The slick was about two miles by 13 miles in size. It was reportedly about 210,000 barrels of oil that went into the ocean. Shell shut operations to all wells that flow to Brutus while the problem was being resolved. Vessels were deployed to begin cleanup.

Additional Accidents

  • A worker was killed at a Shell Canada plant when a hose broke loose and struck the man, fatally injuring him. The workers were using the hose to pump water from a location in preparation for working in a well. The site was shut down until an investigation was completed.
  • In 2014, the Deepwater Nautilus suffered an uncontrolled dive while it was in production. The rig was extensively damaged, but there were no reported injuries. The accident happened while the crew was troubleshooting an alarm. An investigation later revealed that brake caliper deficiencies were noted. It was determined that the crew should have discontinued operations until the problem was properly resolved.
  • A fire was reported at a Shell facility in the North Sea. The fire was on the North Cormorant platform. It was reportedly extinguished before any extensive damage or injuries occurred, and no evacuations were necessary.
  • An oil spill was reported in 2012 originating from Single Buoy Mooring during oil loading into tankers. An environmental assessment team was sent to Kuala Belait beach to review the damage. This spill came shortly after another one that was located in the Bonga oil field off the coast of Nigeria.
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