Halliburton is a large, multinational energy company headquartered in Houston, Texas and in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The company has operations in 70 different countries and employs 55,000 people. While Halliburton engages in a number of different types of operations in the energy industry, its main type of operations is providing services and products for gas and oil exploration and production, including many offshore sites.
A number of controversies have marred the reputation of Halliburton over the years. These include its operations in the Middle East during military operations, allegations of female employees there being assaulted, its role in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, and other environmental and workplace accidents, some of which injured or killed workers.
Halliburton was founded in 1919 by Erle P. Halliburton in Duncan, Oklahoma. He began with just a wagon and mules and used it to create a business in oil well cementing. The first research facilities for the company opened in the 1930s, working on cement and ways to improve the production of oil and gas wells. The 1930s also saw the company’s first offshore operations at a rig in the Gulf of Mexico. It was just the beginning of what would eventually become the most extensive offshore service in the world.
Over the following decades Halliburton would expand to international locations including Alberta, Canada, South America, and the Middle East. European operations began in 1951 with Italian and German locations. In 1984 the company provided all of the completion equipment needed for the very first offshore rig in China. In the 1990s Halliburton expanded into Russia. In the early 2000s the company split its operations into two divisions: Drilling and Evaluation and Completion and Production.
Offshore Exploration and Development
Halliburton works in a number of areas of petroleum and gas, including inland operations, but offshore exploration, drilling, and production has remained a major part of the company’s business. Deepwater drilling is a special area of expertise for Halliburton and a particularly dangerous area of offshore oil work. The company already had operations and drilling sites near many of the world’s deep regions and this helped it seamlessly move into the specialty with logistical advantages and years of experience in offshore work already in place.
The locations in which Halliburton offers deepwater support and services include more than 80 countries and remote locations like the Arctic, the Eastern Mediterranean, and East Africa. The company uses technology to reach these remote and difficult sites. Other deepwater regions with Halliburton operations in place include West Africa, offshore Australia, China, and India, Brazil, and the Gulf of Mexico.
The Deepwater Horizon Controversy
Deepwater drilling is challenging and it has gotten Halliburton in trouble, most famously in the Deepwater Horizon explosion on the BP oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. BP claimed that it was not alone in blame for the incident that caused a huge oil spill, environmental disaster, and the deaths of 11 workers.
Halliburton was responsible for the cementing on the oil well and an investigation revealed that the cementing was deficient. This was found to be a direct cause of the blow out that led to the biggest oil spill offshore in U.S. history. Halliburton defended itself and was even found to have destroyed evidence of its negligence in the incident. Ultimately it settled with BP and paid $1.1 billion for its role in the accident.
In oil and gas production, offshore work is among the most dangerous and deepwater drilling and exploration is even more hazardous. Halliburton claims to be dedicated to safety and to put it ahead of all else. The company expects every employee to put safety first in everything they do. Every meeting at Halliburton begins with a safety moment, in which the team discusses some element of safety, like working in high-risk areas with permits in place.
Halliburton also claims to be on a path to zero incidents and uses its so-called life rules to encourage all workers to commit to the goal. The rules include driver safety, work permits, personal protection equipment, safety while working at heights, safety around objects that could be dropped, handling of chemicals, confined spaces safety procedures, hand tool safety, and operating lifting and hoisting machinery.
Worker Accidents, Injuries, and Fatalities
In spite of this commitment to safety for all workers, Halliburton does not have a perfect record. One of the most recent incidents that occurred in 2016 led to the death of one worker and injuries for two others. It occurred at the site of an oil well. A frozen water line under high pressure ruptured. One man died on the scene and two others were taken to the hospital with very serious injuries.
Not all maritime accidents occur in the water. In 2016 a helicopter carrying workers going form a North Sea oil rig to the mainland of Norway crashed resulting in the deaths of thirteen people. Four of those workers killed were from Halliburton. The helicopter was a model commonly used in offshore drilling, but was known to have safety issues.
Maritime Workers’ Rights
Workers in the maritime industry, including those working offshore for companies like Halliburton, are protected by maritime law in the event of a fatal accident or an accident that causes injuries. Many offshore workers are covered under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act while other maritime workers are covered by the Jones Act or the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
These laws allow workers to access workers’ compensation or to sue employers for compensation after accidents. They also give these rights to the dependents of those workers killed in such accidents. The compensation can cover such things as medical bills, lost wages, lost future earnings, and just for pain and suffering endured because of an accident. If you work in the maritime industry and have been hurt in an accident, know that you have these rights. Speak to a maritime lawyer for expert advice before you decide what to do next.