ConocoPhillips is a large, multinational oil and gas producer. The energy company is headquartered in Houston, Texas and was created in 2002 through a merger of Conoco Inc, and Phillips Petroleum Co. Phillips 66 was later spun off as a downstream asset. In spite of these recent changes, the two companies, Conoco and Phillips, have a long history in the U.S. and in oil drilling and production.
Big companies like ConocoPhillips have a great responsibility to their employers. They are expected to take all reasonable precautions to keep them save and to avoid accidents in this dangerous maritime industry. For those workers employed offshore, the risks are high and the company does not always keep up its end of the bargain. Numerous accidents have plagued the company over the years, some tragic, and others causing only monetary damage. If you are ever injured in a maritime workplace accident, know that you have rights under the law to seek compensation.
Conoco Inc. was founded in 1875 as Continental Oil and Transportation Co. in Ogden, Utah. It 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 was built in Wichita, Kansas in 1927.
Both companies expanded and grew by acquisition 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 in the world. 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 around the world.
ConocoPhillips is a huge business in the oil and gas industry. It pushes hard on exploration and finds new field regularly. In 2015 the company produced over 1,500 barrels of oil per day and had access to 8.2 billion barrels of oil reserves. The company manages both land and offshore fields in six segments: Alaska, Canada, the Lower 48, Asia, the Pacific, and Middle East, Europe and North Africa, and Other International.
Much 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 producing oil for many more decades. In addition to these locations the company is exploring off the coasts of Senegal, Greenland, Australia, and Indonesia.
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 other major oil producers 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. The process begins with good well design, hazard studies, and analyses of the jobs needed to operate a well and how safe they are. The process ends with quick and appropriate responses to incidents.
Although the company has plans in place for preventing and rapidly responding to 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 have come to expect their employer to provide a safe work environment and when that breaks down they have recourse to sue through maritime laws designed to protect maritime workers.
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 involved 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.
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 major winds and rough waters that led to five anchoring cables snapping. A later investigation found that a bracing on the rig had already been cracked and this led 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 nonetheless.
How the Law Protects Maritime Workers
Anyone working in the maritime industry is protected by a series of laws called maritime law. 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 seeing that he or she is adequately taken care of and compensated. This doesn’t always happen, which is why laws exist to allow workers to sue for damages.
If you are injured while working for a maritime company, you have a right to compensation. You can work with a maritime lawyer to find out exactly which laws cover you and your situation. This experienced professional can also help you determine what steps you need to take next.