Bill Would Require Stationing of Rescue Vessels within 3 Miles of Offshore Rigs
by Dennis M. McElwee on January 09, 2012
A bill introduced in the US House of Representatives would require rescue boats to be stationed within three nautical miles of offshore oil and gas drilling rigs.
The measure has been sponsored by Louisiana Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia. According to him, the proposal aims to find a common sense approach to the safety problems facing the offshore oil and gas industry. Concerns about offshore safety have peaked since the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico last year.
More than 100 workers on the Deepwater Horizon were rescued by a supply boat which was nearby. If it was not for the supply boat and its proximity to the rig, many more workers on the rig might have also died in the explosion.
However, the bill has been criticized by the offshore oil and gas drilling industry, which believes that it will inflate operating costs. The offshore industry also believes that such measures are not necessary because the Coast Guard is already capable of launching a full-fledged operation in a tragedy.
These measures include helicopter search and rescue teams that can comb the waters within a few hours after a maritime disaster.
According to the bill presented by Representative Landry, rescue vessels would be required to be stationed not more than three nautical miles from offshore oil and gas drilling rigs while the rig is engaged in drilling, abandonment, and other critical activities. In case of less serious operations, the vessel can be located twelve nautical miles away from the rig.
The maritime attorneys at Schechter McElwee Shaffer and Harris represent injured offshore oil rig and oil platform workers.