Safety officials propose fine against BP
By Wesley Loy

Anchorage Daily News
31 January 2003

ACCIDENT: Firm broke safety laws in oil well explosion, agency says.

State safety officials have proposed a $6,300 fine against BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. for a North Slope well explosion in August that critically injured oil field worker Don Shugak.

The notice given to BP this week accuses BP of violating the state's general worker safety law.

BP failed to protect employees from the explosion of a well with abnormally high pressure, did not ensure procedures were followed to prevent excess pressure in the well, and did not ensure that employees understood procedures to control pressure hazards, the state said.

The violation and fine are merely alleged at this point, said John Stallone, acting chief of the Alaska Occupational Safety and Health section. The violation won't be affirmed until BP either pays the fine or reaches a lower settlement with the safety agency, he said.

BP spokesman Daren Beaudo said Thursday that BP hadn't decided yet what to do.

As for the worker safety charge, Beaudo said: "We had a set of procedures for a period of 25 years that worked well. We found out through this accident that they weren't perfect and we needed to beef them up."

The explosion at well A-22 hit BP worker Don Shugak as he was about to enter the metal well house early on the morning of Aug. 16. He suffered bad burns and multiple broken bones and spent three months in a Seattle hospital.

Reached at his Anchorage home Thursday, Shugak declined to comment on the advice of his attorney. He did say, however, that his recovery is going well and that he walks the Dimond Center mall every morning with a cane.

Stallone said his agency concluded that BP had not committed a willful violation, which could have resulted in criminal charges or stiffer fine. So it proposed fining BP the maximum $7,000 for what is classified in regulations as a "serious" violation, minus $700 for BP's not having had any other serious violations in the prior three years.

The safety agency also is requiring that BP take costly measures to prevent another explosion.

Beaudo said BP has spent millions to investigate the accident and changed procedures and training.

Reporter Wesley Loy can be reached at or 907 257- 4590.

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