ConocoPhillips is a large, multinational oil and gas producer headquartered in Houston, Texas. Oil exploration and production is a dangerous maritime industry, and workers’ risks of injury or death are high. If you are ever injured in a maritime workplace accident, know you have legal rights to seek compensation.
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Conoco Inc. was founded in 1875 as Continental Oil and Transportation Co. in Ogden, Utah.
- Continental Oil produced coal, kerosene, oil, candles, and grease and built the first filling station in the western states.
- Phillips was founded by two brothers in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, in 1917 and was the first company to produce, market, and sell propane for home cooking and heating.
- The first of thousands of Phillips filling stations were built in Wichita, Kansas, in 1927.
- Both companies expanded and grew by acquiring and taking on new industries, like plastics and offshore drilling.
- By 2001 they agreed to merge and became ConocoPhillips in 2002. At the time, it was the third-largest oil company in the U.S. and the sixth-largest globally.
- As the newly merged company ConocoPhillips forged ahead in offshore exploration and drilling and started operations off the coasts of Malaysia, Senegal, Norway, and other locations worldwide.
ConocoPhillips Offshore Operations
ConocoPhillips is a massive business in the oil and gas industry. It pushes hard on exploration and finds new fields regularly. In 2015 the company produced over 1,500 barrels of oil daily and had access to 8.2 billion barrels of oil reserves.
The company manages both land and offshore fields in several segments:
- The Lower 48
- The Pacific
- The Middle East
- North Africa
Most of ConocoPhillips’ offshore production comes from the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea off the coast of Norway.
The Ekofisk field in the North Sea has been producing for the company for four decades and is expected to keep making oil for many more decades. In addition to these locations, the company is exploring off the coasts of Senegal, Greenland, Australia, and Indonesia.
ConocoPhillips Offshore Safety
ConocoPhillips states that it is committed to both worker safety and spill prevention by planning, designing, and leadership of projects.
In July 2010, the company founded an independent company, along with another major oil producer, called the Marine Well Containment Company to provide containment equipment for underwater wells that leak or spill and to prevent environmental disasters.
The company is also committed to incident prevention for the safety of workers in offshore environments that includes:
- Good well design
- Hazard studies
- Analyses of the jobs needed to operate a well
- Analysis of well safety
- Quick and appropriate responses to incidents
Although the company plans to prevent and rapidly respond to offshore accidents, they still happen. Sometimes these accidents are minor, but too often, they are deadly and impact the lives of workers and their families for years to come.
These workers expect their employers to provide a safe work environment. When that breaks down, they have recourse to sue through maritime laws designed to protect maritime workers.
Refinery Roof Collapse
One accident from 2006 led to the death of one worker and injuries for four more. It occurred at a ConocoPhillips refinery when the roof over a storage tank collapsed unexpectedly.
The roof was large, 120 feet in diameter, and it came down as workers were replacing the bottom of the empty storage tank.
One worker died later in the hospital, while the other four recovered from their injuries. This incident demonstrates how dangerous jobs can be at maritime companies, even for those who spend little or no time on the water.
Oil Rig Capsizing
Perhaps the worst tragedy in the company’s history occurred with Phillips Petroleum in 1980. The company was using another drilling company’s rig in the North Sea, the Alexander L. Kielland, when it capsized, resulting in the deaths of 123 people.
The rig was a mobile, semi-submersible drilling unit that housed accommodations for the Phillips workers on board. The capsizing occurred after significant winds and rough waters, leading to five anchoring cables snapping.
A later investigation found that the bracing on the rig had already been cracked, leading to the accident.
Sometimes accidents happen in the maritime industry while transporting people. Such was the case for Conoco in 1991 when a corporate plane carrying 12 people crashed in Borneo.
No survivors were found. Unlike most accidents in this industry, the crash killed executives, not workers, and was tragic and possibly preventable.
How the Law Protects Maritime Workers
Anyone working in the maritime industry is protected by a series of maritime laws. Most offshore workers, like those working the rigs for ConocoPhillips, are protected under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.
When a worker is injured on the job, the employer is responsible for ensuring they are adequately cared for and compensated. This doesn’t always happen, which is why laws exist to allow workers to sue for damages.
You have a right to compensation if you are injured while working for a maritime company. You can work with a maritime lawyer to determine which laws cover you and your situation. This experienced professional can also help you decide what steps you need to take next.