Drilling for oil is an inherently dangerous endeavor. Oil companies and rig workers must take extreme precaution during all parts of the drilling process to avoid disaster. Even one slight mistake or missed safety procedure can lead to a catastrophic blowout. Unfortunately, oil companies often cut corners in order to save time and money. In doing so, they put the lives of the workers at risk.
Timeline of Catastrophic Oil Rig Explosions
Below are some of the most notable and catastrophic oil rig explosions from around the world.
1979 – A Pemex oil rig in Mexico's Campeche Bay suffered a blowout and leaked roughly three million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. At the time, it was the largest oil spill in North American history
1980 – The Hasbah Platform in the Persian Gulf blew out and took the lives of 19 workers. The rig leaked oil into the Persian Gulf for eight days
1984 – Dozens of workers were killed when a Petrobras rig in Brazil exploded
1988 – The Piper Alpha oil rig operated by Occidental Petroleum in the North Sea exploded and sank. 167 workers were killed in the incident, making it the most lethal rig accident in history
1989 – The Santa Fe Al Baz oil rig suffered a blowout of the Nigerian coast resulting in five worker fatalities
1995 – Thirteen workers were killed and dozens more were injured when a Mobil oil rig exploded off of the coast of Nigeria
2001 – An explosion on a Petrobras oil rig killed 11 workers. The platform sank five days after the explosion and leaked 10,000 barrels of oil into the Atlantic Ocean
2010 – The BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig suffered a blowout that caused an explosion that killed 11 workers. The ensuing oil spill leaked nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in what is the largest environmental disaster of all-time
2012 – A Black Elk Energy oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico killing two workers and injuring several others
2012 – An explosion on a Chevron rig off of the coast of Nigeria killed two workers and forced the evacuation of 150 others
2015 – Three workers were killed when an oil rig owned by Parsley Energy exploded in West Texas
2015 – A Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion killed four workers and injured 45 others. The rig was operated by Pemex.
2015 – An oil rig owned by Petrobras exploded off of the Brazilian coast. The incident killed five workers and injured more than 25
Click here to read about other major offshore oil rig accidents.