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Workers injured in Shell platform fire in Gulf of Mexico file suit

Shell’s Enchilada platform, sitting atop Garden Banks Block 128 in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast, caught fire early Wednesday (Nov. 8), injuring two workers. This map shows the location, outlined in yellow.

The lawsuit claims Shell and the pipeline operator were negligent or grossly negligent, failing to maintain a safe work environment…

Three workers injured in a November fire on Shell’s Enchilada platform in the Gulf of Mexico are suing the oil and gas company in a Texas county court. The suit claims Shell, its Gulf of Mexico subsidiary and a pipeline operator “acted with flagrant and malicious disregard” for the health and safety of the workers leading up to the incident.

The lawsuit was filed Nov. 5 in Galveston County Court by attorneys for Robert Reyes, Jorge Castillo and Francisco Navarrete, all workers on the Enchilada platform at the time of the fire. The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and more than $1 million in damage payments for the three men, who “sustained severe injuries” to the head, neck, back and other parts of their bodies.

Shell International Exploration and Production Inc., Shell Offshore Inc. and Garden Banks Gas Pipeline, a subsidiary of Enbridge Pipelines, are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

On Nov. 8, 46 workers aboard the Enchilada platform, located about 112 nautical miles south of Louisiana’s Vermillion Bay, were evacuated to a lifeboat after an early morning blaze broke out on the deepwater platform. The U.S. Coast Guard confirmed two men were injured and airlifted to a hospital in Houston, one with flash burns and a concussion, and another with a sprained wrist and a concussion. It was not immediately clear Friday (Dec. 15) whether the men who were airlifted are included in the Texas suit.

At the time of the fire, a Shell spokesman described it as an “operational incident” and reported both the Enchilada and the nearby Salsa platform were subsequently shut down. Shell also shuttered oil and gas production at its Auger platform and nearby fields, and a 30-inch pipeline that exported gas from the area.

The lawsuit claims Shell and the pipeline operator were negligent or grossly negligent, failing to maintain a safe work environment and to adequately supervise, train and “provide adequate instructions to” employees among other failures.

The companies “had actual, subjective awareness of the risk, and consciously disregarded such risk,” the filing states.

Records with the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement indicate the agency investigated prior incidents on the Enchilada platform, including a Sept. 19 event described as a “shutdown from gas release.” Enchilada was installed in 1997.

BSEE spokeswoman Karla Marshall said the agency is still investigating the cause of the Enchilada platform fire and has no updates at this time. Marshall noted typically takes several months before findings are released in a full report.

Reyes, Castillo and Navarrete are being represented by attorneys Kurt Arnold, J. Kyle Findley, Kala F. Sellers, and Adam Lewis of Arnold & Itkin LLP in Houston.

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