Headquartered in New York City, Hess Corporation is a Fortune 100 company that engages in oil and gas exploration, production, refining, and transportation. Its operations include offshore and deepwater exploration and drilling. The locations that Hess explores and produces natural resources are scattered around the world and include Africa, Russia, the North Sea, Southeast Asia, Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico, Australia, and the Caribbean.
Hess has a long history in the oil and gas industry, dating back to 1933. Over the years it has grown and developed a reputation as a major player in exploration and production. It has had its setbacks too, including a number of controversial environmental disasters. Workers are at risk of accidents too, especially in dangerous offshore work on oil platforms and rigs. These workers are protected by maritime law, and have a right to compensation for injuries.
Hess is headquartered in New York City and was ranked number 75 on the Fortune 500 list in 2013. This is in spite of the fact that it is far from the largest company in the international business of exploration and development of oil and natural gas. The company even downsized in 2014 in order to focus more on this aspect of the business, selling its gas stations to Marathon Petroleum. In addition to oil and gas exploration, Hess is involved in energy trading with a branch of the company called the Hess Energy Trading Company.
Today’s Hess Corporation was founded in 1933 by Leon Hess when he was just 19 years old and had purchased a second hand oil delivery truck. By 1937 he had expanded to a fleet of six trucks and was delivering oil to customers along the east coast. He purchased his first terminal to receive shipments of oil in 1938 in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.
1948 saw the purchase of the first Hess ship, a large oil tanker, and in 1957 the company had its first refinery in Port Reading, New Jersey. Merging with a chemical company in 1962, Hess becomes Hess Oil and Chemical Company. In 1969 the name changed again, to Amerada Hess, when the company merged with another oil company. Offshore exploration and development began in earnest in the 1970s with positions in the Gulf of Mexico and in the North Sea. Leon Hess didn’t retire leadership of the company until 1995, spending six decades guiding its growth. In the most recent years Hess would continue to expand offshore operations and ultimately shift back to the original name of Hess Corporation.
Hess operates both inland and offshore in the search for oil and gas. Major inland operations include the Bakken field in North Dakota and the Utica shale in Ohio. Offshore the company has many more locations and can claim to be the sixth-largest oil producer in the Gulf of Mexico. Other offshore operations include Danish waters in the North Sea, which the company has been developing since 1999, the Malay Basin off the coast of Malaysia and Thailand, the Carnarvon Basin in Australian waters, a block off the coast of Guyana, and locations offshore from Ghana and Equatorial Guinea in West Africa.
Hess claims to put safety as a top priority for all its work, both inland and offshore. The goal of the company, and a goal to which it holds all employees accountable, is zero incidents. The company offers annual safety excellence awards to promote safety in the workplace. Safety management plans for the company include integrity in design and reducing risks through facility design and construction, technical integrity and always testing and maintaining hardware and software, and operational integrity.
Hess also works with contractors to ensure safety. The company’s contractor engagement process includes onboarding directly with contractors and leaders with on-site checks of all equipment and processes for operations. The company also develops innovative techniques and equipment to make the workplace safer.
While Hess maintains it has a good record for safety and a commitment to protect workers, it doesn’t have the best track record for environmental incidents. In 1990 a barge carrying 31,000 barrels of kerosene ran into a reef I the Hudson River, spilling thousands of gallons of fuel into the water. The company was also fined for violating environmental laws in the operations of its gas stations in New York and was forced to pay over $1 million in fines. It has also been part of a big settlement over the contamination of drinking water with a fuel additive.
Worker Safety and Maritime Law
Hess has a fairly good record when it comes to safety and worker incidents, but it isn’t perfect. The company has experienced several incidents that were close calls and could have injured or even killed workers. One such incident included a train derailment that caused a huge fire and the evacuation of an entire own in North Dakota. Luckily no one was hurt in the incident, but it could have been much worse.
Another incident occurred offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. A mistake made by workers led to the leak of zinc bromide into the water, an environmental accident, but also an incident that could have harmed workers in the area. Investigations concluded that the procedure the workers were following did not include appropriate steps to avoid the spill.
These incidents show just how dangerous working in oil and gas can be and that blame can be assigned to various parties involved. Offshore work is particularly risky and workers on platforms are always in danger of being victims of accidents. These accidents can lead to long-term health problems, medical bills, and lost wages.
For these reasons workers in the offshore industry are protected by maritime law which gives them the right to sue employers for adequate compensation. If you have been hurt in a maritime workplace accident, you can seek compensation for your injuries. Your family can seek the same compensation if the worst happens and you are killed on the job. It is important to speak to a maritime lawyer as soon after an accident as possible so that you know what steps to take next.