National Oilwell Varco (NOV) provides services and products for the oil drilling and production industry. Offshore oil work is difficult and dangerous. If NOV products fail, the company can be held liable for a worker’s injury or death.
About National Oilwell Varco
National Oilwell Varco, often called NOV, is an American company based in Houston, Texas, which operates internationally. It is one of the biggest providers of equipment and parts to the oil and gas industry.
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The company’s equipment is used in many of the oil rigs, drilling equipment, and offshore platforms used in the Gulf of Mexico and worldwide.
NOV provides oil and gas exploration and production companies with everything from heavy hardware like top drives, derricks, and mud pumps to electronics and control systems to complete drilling rigs. NOV can also claim to be the largest employer in Houston.
National Oilwell Varco has a long history in the U.S. It formed from two original companies: Oilwell Supply was founded in 1862, and National Supply in 1893.
Both of these early companies made equipment for oil drilling, like derricks and pumps. By 1987 the two had come together through a circuitous path to create National Oilwell.
This company then merged with Varco in 2005. Varco was founded in 1908 and named for its founders, Vuilleumiere, Abegg, and Reinhold.
NOV Products and Services
National Oilwell Varco is dedicated to providing products and services to the oil and gas drilling industry on land and offshore.
The list of products they offer is long and technical. It includes subsea production systems, floating production systems, offshore rigs, components like power systems, drilling pressure control, iron roughnecks, and many more.
The company is divided into three main segments focused on the rigs, technology, and solutions for completing production projects:
- NOV Rig Systems. The segment devoted to rigs provides what the company calls the world’s most advanced drilling equipment and solutions. These include aftermarket, land, and offshore rigs and components.
- NOV Wellbore Technologies. This department focuses on the equipment and processes that improve and enhance drilling and creating wells. It includes drilling automation programs, software, hardware like drill bits, and inspection and corrosion control services.
- NOV Completion & Production Solutions. The final segment uses the company’s decades of expertise to help clients finish on-target projects.
Safety and Company Culture
Working with the kind of heavy equipment National Oilwell Varco provides is dangerous. It is risky for the employees of NOV who work with oil and gas companies to install and use the equipment.
It is hazardous for workers at other companies relying on this equipment to work in a safe way that will not cause accidents and injuries.
NOV claims to have a dedication to safety and environmental responsibility. The company operates under a Health, Safety, and Environmental Management System model overseen by corporate leaders. This is implemented with guiding principles for creating a safe workplace and a company culture that puts safety first.
- The company trains its workers and provides the necessary tools and resources to do their jobs safely.
- To maintain this culture of safety first, the company holds regular safety and training programs for workers and clients.
- The training focuses on preventing accidents by encouraging all workers to plan, do, check, and act to identify all risks and potential hazards.
NOV Safety Incidents
No matter how dedicated a company says it is to safety and how it makes efforts to prevent accidents and injuries, people are bound to get hurt in offshore oil. NOV has seen several workplace incidents.
Some were within the company, while others used NOV equipment in other companies. In either situation, NOV can be held accountable and may be sued by injured workers exercising their rights to compensation under maritime law.
Elevator Shaft Fall
One such terrible incident occurred when an NOV worker fell 85 feet down an elevator shaft on board the Discoverer Deep Seas offshore rig. The worker was installing a new elevator when NOV told him to deviate from the specifications.
Another supervisor rejected those changes, and according to the injured worker, this all forced him and his crew to work faster than was safe. This, he says, led to his fall.
The worker made all of these claims in a lawsuit against NOV in which he is seeking damages for severe and debilitating injuries and multiple surgeries. Because he was working on an offshore rig, he could claim rights under maritime law.
Some workers exercise their rights under maritime laws to get compensation for much less severe but still significant injuries. Another NOV worker sued for compensation after being exposed to an epoxy chemical that caused him to suffer an allergic skin reaction. The reaction was bad enough to leave the worker with a semi-permanent impairment.
Another incident occurred with a worker for another company affected by an NOV product. The worker was aboard a Transocean Deepwater Champion drillship when he walked underneath an NOV top drive system.
Part of the system fell 13 feet and struck the man on the head. He suffered from a laceration to the scalp, even though he was wearing a hard hat.
NOV had previously warned clients that pieces could drop from this equipment, but the company may still be held liable for the accident and the man’s injury.
Maritime Law and Workers’ Rights
Employees who work with NOV equipment on offshore oil rigs are given certain rights under maritime law to seek compensation if injured.
Usually, the employer is held responsible, but if an employee of a different company is hurt by NOV equipment, the blame may be harder to place. If it can be found that there was a fault in the equipment, negligence may be found to be with NOV.
In either case, the worker injured has rights under maritime law to seek and receive compensation for accidents and injuries.
Workers on oil rigs offshore are generally protected under the Outer Shelf Continental Lands Act. If a worker is injured on a ship or other seagoing vessel, that worker is more likely to be covered under the Jones Act.
Whichever law is relevant, workers can rely on it to get them the money they need to pay for medical bills, compensate them for pain and suffering, and cover lost wages.
If you have been hurt at a maritime job, be sure to seek the advice of a maritime lawyer before agreeing to any deals with your employer.