Offshore Oil Drilling Deaths More Common in U.S. than in Europe

Sunday, May 09, 2010
Deepwater Horizon (AP Photo)

Offshore oil workers stand a higher risk of getting killed or injured on the job than their counterparts in Europe. This finding was uncovered among others in an investigation by The Wall Street Journal of the Minerals Management Service (MMS), which has come under criticism since the Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

Since 2005, those manning offshore oil platforms in the U.S. have been more than four times as likely to be killed and 23% more likely to be injured than a European worker. Between 2004 and 2009, the offshore oil fatality rate in the United States was 4.84 per 100 million hours worked, while the rate in Europe was only 1.07.
The problem with the MMS, concluded the newspaper, is that the small agency has ceded authority regarding safety matters to the oil industry. It sets performance goals for oil and drilling companies and leaves it to them to figure out how best to meet them.
In the wake of the Gulf crisis, MMS officials have said they plan to crack down on the industry to reduce the risk of other accidents like Deepwater Horizon from happening again, but given their record, some observers are skeptical.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Oil Regulator Ceded Oversight to Drillers (by Russell Gold and Stephen Power, Wall Street Journal)


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