MAY 2019 -- The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) made public its regulatory safety rollbacks that will dismantle security standards for offshore drilling rig operations that were implemented after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Deepwater Horizon was an offshore drilling rig, located about 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana, that exploded on April 20th, 2010 and consequently caught fire after multiple safety warnings and violations were ignored. The structure’s poor safety regulations resulted in the deaths of 11 employees, and injuries of 17 others. 4 million barrels of oil were spilled over the course of 84 days.
These rule cuts follow the current administration’s plan to vastly expand oil and natural gas drilling off the nation’s gulf coast line. Additionally, the revisions will reportedly save an estimated $1.5 billion over the next 10 years.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2003-2013 the U.S. oil and gas extraction industry experienced unprecedented growth leading to a doubling of its workforce and an increase in the number of drilling rigs by 71%.
In the midst of this rapid growth came the discovery of oil and gas in the Eagle Ford Shale, a long, geological formation that straddles the heartland of Texas’ central-southern regions. Its brittle sedimentary structure is extracted through hydraulic fracturing--otherwise known as fracking, a process in which rock is smashed with a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals to release small pockets of oil and gas inside.
Stretching across the brush country of South Texas, from Madisonville--just north of Houston--all the way to the western rural regions of Carrizo Springs and Crystal City, the Eagle Ford Shale has been the most oil-and-gas-rich geological formation in the state since its discovery in 2008.
At roughly 50 miles wide and 400 miles long the Eagle Ford Shale is home nearly 30 counties in which thousands of locals are settled and oil and gas professionals have flocked to on the promise of hefty financial compensation.
Like any other energy-industry hub, similar to the eruption that occurred in the Permian Basin of West Texas, these counties have stood witness to an alarming spike in occupational fatalities.
According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Eagle Ford Shale leads the state in oil-and-gas related fatalities.