Anadarko Petroleum is an oil and gas exploration and development company. It has been around since the 1950s and is headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas. Although offshore exploration and development is a big part of the business, Anadarko also treats and transports natural gas and natural gas products, and is involved in mining of hard minerals through royalties and joint ventures. In 2015 the company had over two billion barrels of oil in reserves.
Anadarko’s offshore operations take it to the Gulf of Mexico, Ghana, Mozambique, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, and Brazil. It is one of the largest petroleum companies in the world and the largest operating in the Gulf of Mexico. Anadarko has come under fire for accidents in offshore drilling and other operations. Some have involved injured and killed workers, while others have been environmental disasters. In 2014 the company faced the largest environmental cleanup settlement in U.S. history.
Anadarko became one of the largest players in U.S. and international petroleum and gas by consistently expanding operations and acquiring smaller companies over several decades. The origins of Anadarko date back to 1959 when it was formed to be a subsidiary of the Panhandle Eastern Corporation Pipeline Company. The formation came after the discovery of natural gas in what is called the Anadarko basin stretching through parts of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.
Anadarko Petroleum was spun off from the parent company in 1986. Throughout the next few decades the company would grow by acquiring companies like Union Pacific Resources, Berkeley Petroleum Corporation, Kerr-McGee, Western Gas Resources, and more. The company also grew by exploring offshore areas and finding reserves in international locations like Mozambique.
Much of Anadarko’s operations are offshore, but it also has inland natural gas and oil reserves and development sites in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Texas, as well as fracking operations in Pennsylvania. Offshore, Anadarko produces much of its oil from the Gulf of Mexico, with 80,000 barrels per day. It is the largest independent producer in the Gulf and has more than two million acres and seven floating facilities and rigs in operation.
Internationally, Anadarko also has several offshore reserves, platforms, rigs, and development and exploration sites. These include Brazil, where Anadarko was the first foreign company to explore and discover offshore oil. Development of this area is currently being planned, while exploration continues offshore of Colombia. In Africa, the company has discovered several offshore reserves in the waters of Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and Mozambique. Exploration is ongoing offshore of Kenya and South Africa.
Anadarko is a large company working in a dangerous industry. Offshore workers face numerous risks from faulty equipment, poor training, bad decisions and communication, rough waters and bad weather, explosions, gas and oil leaks, fires, and more. Companies like Anadarko must take responsibility for these risks and take all precautions that are reasonable to ensure safety.
Anadarko claims to have a culture of safety first, with several policies in place to back it up. For instance, all workers, including contractors on Anadarko operations are authorized to stop work to address safety concerns. The company also claims to have a good safety record. In 2015 it says that 86 percent of operational areas recorded no incident, giving the company as a whole a low total recordable incidents rate.
In spite of these claims and safety policies, people still get hurt on the job at Anadarko. In one such incident in 2015, workers were replacing corroded stud bolts on a well production header. A swivel socket slipped off the nut of a bolt and struck a worker in the face. The worker had to be airlifted to the hospital for treatment. Later investigation found that the emergency shut down on the hydraulic torque unit was defective. The workers knew this and proceeded anyway.
Another Anadarko incident was deadlier. In west Texas a well blew out while workers were operating on a maintenance rig. High pressure in the well caused the blowout and through the crew members off. This led to two deaths. One died on the scene, while the other was transported to a hospital, but died from his injuries. Others were injured in the incident.
Anadarko has had limited worker safety incidents, but it has made waves for major environmental disasters and resulting settlements. One of these was the infamous Deepwater Horizon spill. Anadarko owned 25 percent of non-operating interests in that project, which means it had to be held accountable for the huge oil spill it caused, along with British Petroleum (BP).
BP billed Anadarko for its share of the cleanup in 2010, $272 million, but the company publicly refused to pay. It accused BP of gross negligence and denied any part in the wrongdoing. By 2011 Anadarko was forced to settle with BP. That wasn’t the end of troubles for the company, though, as by 2015 a judge had ordered Anadarko to pay $159.9 million in fines for violating the Clean Water Act. The amount was approximately $50 for every barrel of oil spilled.
In 2014 Anadarko faced another environmental issue and ended up paying the largest settlement for environmental contamination in U.S. history. The U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency forced the company to pay $5.15 billion to clean up several sites in various locations throughout the U.S. Anadarko inherited these contaminated sites when it acquired Kerr-McGee. Some of the sites included radioactive waste piles in the Navajo Nation territory and creosote at sites throughout the southeast.
Worker Rights in Offshore Accidents
Anadarko has a commitment to safety, and yet it operates a dangerous industry. Offshore exploration and drilling is one of the riskiest industries in the world. Workers face dangers every day on rigs and on the transportation that takes them to and from offshore sites. These workers have rights, and if you work offshore for a company like Anadarko, you also have rights under maritime laws. The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act is the most likely law that applies to workers in this field.
Laws like these under maritime law can help you get compensation after an accident. This compensation can help you pay expensive medical bills and ensure that you can still support yourself and your family if your injuries prevent you from going back to work. If you lose your life on the job, your family can also claim these rights and seek compensation. If you or your family is in this difficult situation, speak with a maritime lawyer before agreeing to anything your employer offers. Employers often try to get away with paying less than you can get through a lawsuit.