A report containing the findings of an investigation into a fatal accident at a Shell platform in the United States has been published.

Two people were killed in the incident aboard the oil company’s floating Auger facility in the Gulf of Mexico on June 30, 2019, when a hook holding a lifeboat inadvertently opened.

As the lifeboat, manufactured by Palfinger Marine, was pulled back into position by a winch following a training exercise, the “rear hook” unlocked, causing the boat to move away from the flat. -form in a “pendulum” movement.

Within seconds, the hook securing the lifeboat detached and the lifeboat fell approximately 25 meters into the sea, landing overturned in the water.

© Provided by Palfinger Marine
Lifeboat number 6 on the Shell Auger platform

Two people who were still in the boat when it fell were killed, while another, who was exiting the boat at the time, was injured.

Despite his injuries, he swam to the nearby lifeboat and was able to retrieve one of the crew on board.

Following the accident, an investigation into its causes was opened involving the US Coast Guard, Shell and Palfinger Marine.


According to the evidence gathered by the study, it is “likely” that the crew cycled – open to closed position – the hooks “twice while in the water”.

This put additional strain on the “cable conduit” which was “already compromised” including “squeezing and stretching”.

The report states that it is “probable that during the second cycling event, the pipe, already weakened and damaged, separated during the closing action”.

As a result, when reset, the “lock shaft” did not return to the fully closed position, but rather came to rest in a “nearly open” position.

At this point it could support the weight of the lifeboat, but when additional forces were applied, due to the winch pulling the lifeboat against the bumpers, the locking shaft went from “almost open.” ” opened.

Earlier that same month, during an annual inspection, the unsafe condition of the cables was reported by Palfinger, who recommended their replacement.


Shell did not follow the advice, in part perhaps because Palfinger maintenance engineers made “general statements” that “all systems [were] happened to be [in] good working order ”and the lifeboats could be put back into service, according to the report.

In its findings, the U.S. Coast Guard made ten safety recommendations, ranging from updating the current policy on exercise and maintenance requirements to developing regulations to oversee lifeboat repairs. , winches and davits.

Eight other administrative recommendations were made, including public sharing of investigation findings.

A Shell spokesperson said: “Following an incident at TLP Auger on June 30, 2019, in which two fatalities and one non-life-threatening injury were sustained, Shell cooperated with United States Coast Guard (USCG) in connection with this agency’s investigation. Additionally, we conducted our own internal investigation and shared our findings with the USCG.

“The incident occurred during a routine and mandatory test of the launch and recovery capabilities of lifeboats at Auger, located 214 miles south of New Orleans on the Gulf of Mexico in the United States. United.

“Shell’s internal investigation revealed that the combination of (1) lifeboat control cable damage and (2) a winch drop wire configuration that resulted in the boat not being suspended at the davit, which may have generated excessive force against the bumper when winching, likely operated to cause the rear overhead release hook to open.

“In the 40 years of Shell’s operation in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, our primary focus has been on ensuring that our employees return home safely to their loved ones. It’s devastating when they don’t. We deeply regret this loss of life within our family and our Shell community. “


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