Thunder Horse Oil Rig
Thunder Horse is one of BP’s largest facilities in the Gulf of Mexico. Located 150 miles southeast of New Orleans, it can house nearly 300 workers, and its daily oil production exceeds the amount that a West Texas rig could bring to the surface in one year!
A Brief Overview
The BP and ExxonMobil joint venture is a semi-submersible platform that’s moored in waters of 6,040 feet. This is a production establishment with crew quarters, which means that living conditions are available and it’s not necessary for staff to travel to and from the facility every single day.
According to the official BP presentation, this facility has the capacity to produce up to 250,000 barrels of oil per day. Its natural gas capacity is 200 million cubic feet per day.
As the name suggests, the platform extracts from the Thunder Horse field that was discovered in 1999. Currently, it ranks as one of the most prominent production areas in the Gulf of Mexico. It consists of two fields that are being developed simultaneously.
BP-operated pipelines are used to transport the oil and gas extracted via the offshore facility to shore. Proteus and Endymion pipelines are used for oil and Okeanos and Destin transport gas. The first oil was extracted via the platform in 2008, and within one year, a full capacity of extraction was accomplished.
Upon the initial set up of Thunder Horse, BP underwent a couple of additional projects to modernize it.
In 2016, the company launched a water injection project aimed at increasing the platform’s production capacity. Apart from that, the innovation is also expected to increase the production life of this massive Gulf of Mexico facility.
In the three years leading to this execution, BP refurnished Thunder Horse, innovating both the top-side and the underwater equipment. Two water injection wells were also set up at the time.
Additionally, a south expansion occurred in 2017 and BP is also extracting oil from it. A sub-sea production of approximately two miles was built on top of the existing infrastructure, and it enhanced further the water injection project of 2016.
Accidents and Injuries
Such a massive platform that has a crew exceeding a few hundred people can be difficult and even dangerous to operate. There have been various crew injury and property damage reports over the years.
In 2005, the platform had to be evacuated in the wake of Hurricane Dennis. While no staff members were injured, the facility was reported as listing because of the aftermath of the bad weather. It fell into a 20-degree list, but no hull damage or oil leaks occurred.
After an inspection, investigators found out that a check valve installed incorrectly had caused the nearly disastrous accident.
There has been some legal controversy pertaining to individuals injured on facilities with crew quarters. The Reston L. Moore v. Bic Salamis case is an interesting example. Moore was employed as a park of the offshore workforce. While doing his job, he was exposed to a chemical that contributed to health problems.
Moore pursued compensation under the Jones Act. He claimed for unseaworthiness, maintenance and cure, and negligence under the act. Court, however, ruled out that facilities with living quarters like the platform didn’t classify as vessels under the Jones Act. While the platform was initially towed to its location, it underwent many modifications through the years. Thus, it was affixed to its place, and it no longer met the conditions for pursuing negligence under the Jones Act.