Anadarko Petroleum was an oil and gas exploration and development company acquired by Occidental Petroleum in 2019. Anadarko’s offshore operations made it one of the largest petroleum companies in the world and the largest operating in the Gulf of Mexico. Anadarko came under fire for accidents in offshore drilling and other operations, some of which injured or killed workers.
Anadarko became one of the largest players in the U.S. and international petroleum and gas by consistently expanding operations and acquiring smaller companies over several decades.
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- The origins of Anadarko date back to 1959, when it was formed to be a subsidiary of the Panhandle Eastern Corporation Pipeline Company. T
- 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.
- The company would grow over the next few decades 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.
In 2019, Occidental Petroleum, another American company, acquired Anadarko after outbidding Chevron.
Much of Anadarko’s operations occurred offshore, but it also had inland natural gas and oil reserves, development sites in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Texas, and fracking operations in Pennsylvania.
Offshore, Anadarko produced much of its oil from the Gulf of Mexico, with 80,000 barrels per day at one time. It was the largest independent producer in the Gulf and had more than two million acres and seven floating facilities and rigs in operation.
Internationally, Anadarko also had several offshore reserves, platforms, rigs, and development and exploration sites. These included Brazil, where Anadarko was the first foreign company to explore and discover offshore oil. In Africa, the company found several offshore reserves in the waters of Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and Mozambique.
Anadarko Worker Accidents
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 reasonable precautions to ensure safety.
Anadarko claimed 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, were authorized to stop work to address safety concerns.
The company also claimed to have a good safety record. In 2015 it said that 86% of operational areas recorded no incident, giving the company a low total recordable incidents rate.
Despite these claims and safety policies, people still got hurt on the job at Anadarko:
- In one such incident in 2015, workers replaced 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 shutdown 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 was also involved in 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).
By 2011 Anadarko was forced to settle with 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.
That wasn’t the end of the troubles for the company. In 2015 a judge 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 throughout the U.S.
Anadarko inherited these contaminated sites when it acquired Kerr-McGee. Some sites included radioactive waste piles in the Navajo Nation territory and creosote at locations throughout the southeast.
Worker Rights in Offshore Accidents
Offshore exploration and drilling is one of the riskiest industries in the world. Workers face daily dangers on rigs and the transportation that takes them to and from offshore sites.
These workers have rights; 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 for 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 you can still support yourself and your family if your injuries prevent you from returning 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 challenging 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.