Worst Oilfield Accidents of All Time

In 2021, U.S. petroleum consumption averaged roughly 19.78 million barrels per day, and oil rig employees take significant risks to keep up with this demand. They operate heavy machinery and drill for a highly flammable substance, sometimes several miles offshore.

One minor mistake could lead to a major explosion. Over the years, the world has witnessed some of the most catastrophic oilfield disasters of all time and learning from these events could help workers stay safe on the job. Call Kemmy Law Firm today at (432) 400-0000 or fill out our secure contact form.

1. Deepwater Horizon

One of the most infamous oil rig disasters of the 21st century is undoubtedly the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It occurred in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20th, 2010. Once crew members drilled beyond the ocean floor to reach the Macondo Prospect oil reserve, they pulled out the drill and placed cement plugs that would be removed later to extract the oil.

The ocean floor’s intense pressure eventually caused a blowout, which traveled up to the drilling platform, resulting in a massive explosion. Blowout preventers are designed to stop this type of accident from occurring. However, this particular blowout preventer was defective and failed to contain the extreme pressure.

After two days, Deepwater Horizon sank. An estimated 4 million barrels of oil began to spill out into the Gulf over the next 87 days, making this the largest oil spill in the history of marine oil drilling operations. Scientists say that oil from Deepwater Horizon can still be detected more than 10 years after the incident.

The effects of Deepwater Horizon went far beyond the initial event. BP found themselves facing a $5.5 billion Clean Water Act penalty—not to mention the $8.8 billion in natural resource damages.

Discover Who We Are

video play button

2. Bohai 2

In November of 1979, one of the most fatal oil rig disasters occurred off the coast of China in the Gulf of Bohai. Out of the 76 crew members on the rig, only four survived. Many quickly assume that fires and explosions are the main cause of oil rig disasters. However, for offshore rigs, severe weather could produce significant waves and put crew members in grave danger if the rig isn’t stable.

This was the case for the Bohai 2 rig, which was being towed to another location when an intense storm hit. Violent winds broke a ventilator pump, causing a puncture hole in the deck and flooding. Quickly, things went from bad to worse, and the rig capsized, killing nearly everyone on board.

After the catastrophe, reports stated that the crew members were not adequately trained in emergency evacuation procedures or the use of life-saving equipment. Investigators also found that the crew did not follow proper towing procedures because the operating instructions were in Japanese, not Chinese.


Awards & Associations

Million Dollar Advocates Forum Logo
Recognizes the 1% of lawyers who have obtained a jury verdict or award of one million dollars or more.
Super Lawyers Logo
Identifies outstanding and highly regarded lawyers with significant professional achievements.
Texas Board of Legal Specialization Logo
Certifies that a lawyer has substantial experience in select areas of law, completed continuing legal education, and passed a rigorous exam.
Top100 TopVerdict.com Logo
Awarded to U.S. law firms and attorneys with one of the highest jury verdicts, settlements, or awards in the Nation.
Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum Logo
Reserved for the top trial lawyers in America, who have won multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements.
Avvo 10 Rating Top Attorney Badge
Lists the best local attorneys in your area with important details about their skill and experience.
Expertise best car accident lawyers in Odessa 2021 image
Awarded to the best local experts, scored on more than 25 variables across five categories, and analyzed the results.
NTL Top 100 logo
The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers.

3. Piper Alpha

Weighing in at 14,000 tons with a height two and a half times the size of the Statue of Liberty is the Piper Alpha oil rig, located 140 miles off the coast of Scotland. On July 6, 1988, a gas leak was discovered in the rig’s condensate pumps. Per routine procedure, the pump was sealed temporarily.

However, the crew that worked the following shift turned on the defective pump, not knowing it was out of commission, which led to a series of explosions that engulfed the rig in flames.

Just three hours after the initial explosions, the rig collapsed into the sea. Out of the 226 men aboard, only 61 survived. In addition to the 165 lives lost, the disaster resulted in $3.4 billion in total insured damages. Piper Alpha has since become a case study to learn from the crew members’ mistakes and understand what could happen if safety failures occur.


When you put clients first, they notice.

They fought for us as if they were fighting for their own family.


If you’re looking for a law firm, where you’re not just another client. I can say from personal experience, you have found the right place at The Kemmy Law Firm. Everyone there always treated us amazingly. Not at any time were we in the dark, not knowing what was going on. Either Tom, Nick or Melissa would give us updates often on the case and explain to us the next steps. Which this made us feel like we were the only case they had. They fought for us as if they were fighting for their own family. They were compassionate about making sure we were going to be all right during the case as well as the years after the case. We are so thankful we found the Kemmy Law Firm and you will be too. Thank you Tom, Nick, and Melissa and everyone at The Kemmy Law Firm.

  Stacey Mitchell   |   07.19.2019   |   See All Reviews

4. Ocean Ranger

The Ocean Ranger oil rig was one of the world’s largest semisubmersible drill rigs. On February 15, 1982, a severe storm caused it to collapse in the Grand Banks off the coast of Newfoundland. All 84 crew members on board the Ocean Ranger didn’t make it out alive despite their best efforts.

The crew endured 90mph winds and nearly 60-foot waves. Although these were considered severe weather conditions, two other refineries—the Sedco 706 and the Zapata Ugland—were drilling nearby and remained intact with minimal damage.

This fact led investigators to believe internal errors might have contributed to this disaster. Inherent design flaws, lack of safety standards, poor emergency training, and inadequate safety gear, among other issues, were reported during investigations.

This event has since left a long-term impact on the families in Newfoundland, given that most of the crew members that perished were Newfoundlanders.

Our Verdicts and Settlements
Speak for Themselves

Permanent Brain Injury

The Kemmy Firm secured an $8.6 million settlement on behalf of a woman who suffered a permanent brain injury after three years of hard-fought litigation.

Permanent Spinal Cord Injury

The Kemmy Law Firm, P.C. obtained the second largest medical negligence verdict in Texas for 2017 ($13.5 million).

Total Destruction of West Texas Business

The Kemmy team secured a confidential settlement for a group of Well Owners who were forced to shut down their oil related business with a $20 Million market value.

Permanent Spine Injury for Iowa Insurance Agent

We recovered $3 Million for a family whose breadwinner and patriarch suffered a severe spinal cord injury.


5. Mumbai High North

Mumbai High North is an oil refinery located off the coast of Mumbai, India that exploded on July 27th, 2005, resulting in the deaths of 22 crew members. The complex is made up of four bridge-linked platforms roughly 60 miles from the shore: The NA, MHF, MHN, and MHW.

The rig exploded after a multipurpose support vessel collided with platform MHN, causing a gas leak that resulted in the rig bursting into flames. In addition to the uncontrollable fires, the rescue was made even more difficult when a monsoon prevented helicopters from taking off.

Rescue teams eventually saved 362 crew members after 15 long hours, and reports have provided valuable insight into the lessons to be learned from this horrific event.

Injured on an Oilfield? Call Kemmy Law Firm

Oil rig disasters have claimed the lives of thousands of victims throughout the years. Unfortunately, many oilfield accidents can be avoided. When someone’s negligence leads to your injuries or damages, you should pursue compensation through a personal injury claim.

Let the Kemmy Law Firm help you recover everything you lost by calling (432) 400-0000 today to schedule your free consultation.

Personal Injury Attorneys & Trial Lawyers Let Our Family Protect Yours

Contact Kemmy Law Firm Today

(432) 400-0000 ONLINE FORM

Get a free consultation. We do not charge up-front fees, and you owe nothing unless you recover compensation.

When you work with us at Kemmy Law Firm, you are working with a family run firm with more than 50 years of combined experience. We are dedicated and successful trial attorneys practicing in West TX, Hobbs, NM, Midland-Odessa, and across the Permian Basin. Our team handles everything from catastrophic injury claims to complex business matters. We are here to fight for you. We dedicate our time and attention to your case and use every resource available to maximize your claim and obtain the best possible outcome.