Marathon is a huge oil and gas exploration and development company headquartered in Houston, Texas. In addition to exploration and production of gas and oil, both inland and offshore, Marathon also mines oil sands and refines, markets, and transports oil and gas products. While Marathon is a U.S.-based company, it is a huge international company with operations around the world at sites including Indonesia, Africa, and the North Sea among many others.
The history of Marathon is a long one, spanning more than one hundred years. In that time it has employed workers in a dangerous industry, especially in offshore operations. Workers on ships and platforms that operate in oil and gas drilling face a number of dangers and Marathon has seen many accidents. Workers have rights under maritime law and can and have sued Marathon over incidents that left them injured, sometimes severely.
Marathon Oil Corporation is a publically traded, independent company dedicated to the exploration for oil and gas as well as its development, production, marketing, and transport. SSA is a subsidiary of Marathon that is most familiar to the public. It is responsible for the gas stations selling Marathon gasoline. These are the Speedway and SuperAmerica brands.
Marathon is a huge company with many assets. By the end of 2015 the company reported over two billion barrels of oil equivalent in its proven reserves. Most of that was in the U.S., but the company also has reserves in Canada and Africa. Leadership for operations is divided geographically between North America and International.
The origins of this large company date back to the Ohio Oil Company, founded in 1887. Standard Oil bought the company in 1889, but Ohio Oil reemerged after the 1911 forced break-up of the Standard Oil monopoly. In 1930, Ohio Oil Company expanded by acquiring the Transcontinental Oil Company. At this time it also established the Marathon brand, but it would not change the name of the company to Marathon until 1962. Over the decades, the company acquired other companies and expanded operations, eventually becoming one of the largest oil companies in the world.
Marathon has three operating segments. North America Exploration and Production explores, produces, and sells oil and natural gas products in the U.S. and Canada. International Exploration and Production does the same for locations outside of North America, including offshore West African Locations and locations in United Kingdom waters of the North Sea. The Oil Sands Mining segment operates in the oil sands of Alberta, Canada.
The Gulf of Mexico is a major site of offshore operations for Marathon. It owns non-operating interests in locations 90 miles offshore from Louisiana as well as interest in another important block in the Gulf. Even more important for the company are the North Sea operations. Here Marathon has three platforms in deepwater regions. In African waters the company operates and owns interest in blocks offshore of Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
Exploring and drilling for oil and gas in offshore regions is hazardous work, and as many news stories can prove often lead to environmental disasters. Marathon has been guilty of some of these and they prove controversial for the company. Offshore drilling companies have a responsibility to do their work in a way that does not threaten the environment, but that often doesn’t happen.
One recent Marathon incident occurred on one of the company’s North Sea platforms in 2015. The Brae Alpha platform had to halt operations after a gas line ruptured in December. The blast in the line occurred because of a leak. Corrosion may have led to that leak and the subsequent rupture. This is an issue that is preventable and Marathon may be found to be negligent in letting the leak happen.
Fires aboard platforms drilling for oil or gas can also be damaging to the environment. Often these fires rage for days or even weeks before they can be controlled, spewing greenhouse gases and pollution into the air. This happened to Marathon in 1987 when a platform in Alaska suffered a gas blow out. Gas flooded out and workers tried to stop the well, but couldn’t. A fire started and burned for a week. Luckily no workers were injured in the incident.
Worker Accidents and Injuries
No workers may have been injured in the above environmental accidents, but they have been harmed in other incidents over the years. Working on offshore platforms is dangerous, as is working on seagoing vessels and in the ports and refineries used in the oil and gas industry. In 1998 one worker lost his life in such an accident.
This happened on a platform when a crane was lifting a heavy load and broke free of its pedestal. The operator of the crane was struggling to control it when the incident happened. He managed to regain control, but the crane rocked back and forth until it separated from its pedestal and into the water. The operator was unable to get out of the crane before it fell. He died and another worker was injured.
Some accidents are much less severe and less fatal. One worker filed a lawsuit against Marathon when he suffered an injury in 1976. He worked as a mechanic on an offshore platform and slipped and fell while on the job. He suffered spinal damage for years after the incident. Three years after it occurred, he invoked maritime law to sue the company for monetary damages because of ongoing medical expenses, loss of wages, and pain and suffering.
Worker Accidents and Maritime Law
Any worker in the maritime industry, including those working on platforms, on vessels, and in ports, may use maritime laws to seek compensation after workplace accidents. These laws are in place to ensure that workers can get the money the need to recover and replace lost wages. Not all companies are willing to pay what is owed without a fight, so if you are hurt on the job be sure to turn to the expertise of a maritime lawyer.