2013

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With the bankruptcy of dozens of traditional defendants in asbestos litigation, plaintiffs’ attorneys have been creative in pursuing claims in previously untapped areas. One such area is alleged oilfield worker exposure via asbestos-containing drilling mud additives. These were specialty products used to raise viscosity in a well (bentonite or “gel” was by far the most common viscosity producer used by the drilling industry). Asbestos-containing drilling mud additives were first introduced to the market in the mid-1960’s and production ceased in the mid-1980’s. While mass screenings by plaintiffs’ lawyers have largely ceased in others areas of asbestos litigation, they are alive and well in the context of drilling mud litigation. (more…)

Mississippi’s Statewide Rule 13, addressing blowout preventers, currently states that, “[i]n drilling areas where high pressures are likely to exist and on all wildcat wells, all proper and necessary precautions shall be taken for keeping the well under control, including the use of blowout preventers and high pressure fittings attached to properly anchored and cemented casing strings.”  This Rule, however, is likely getting a major overhaul aimed at enhancing the safety of the general public and oilfield workers. (more…)

The American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL) anticipates the release of the newest Operating Agreement format specifically related to horizontal drilling. Beginning in 1956 the AAPL has promulgated a standard format Operating Agreement for use onshore in the oil and gas industry, with revision in 1977, 1982 and 1989. Also the AAPL has developed standard Operating Agreement for use offshore. (more…)

A recent study supports producers with regard to air quality in the Barnett Shale and its effects on health risks. Houston-based ToxStrategies published its study, funded by the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council, and using data from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (the “TCEQ”) found that emissions related to natural gas production are below levels that would pose health concerns. (more…)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has responded to the request for rehearing in Ranger Insurance, Ltd. v. BP P.L.C., 710 F.3d 388 (5th Cir. Mar. 1, 2013) by withdrawing its March 1, 2013 opinion (reversing the district court and affording BP unlimited access to Transocean’s primary and excess CGL coverage), and certifying two questions to the Texas Supreme Court for the determination of how Texas law (applicable under a choice-of-law provision in the relevant policies) should apply (Ranger Insurance, Ltd. v. BP P.L.C., Appeal No. 12-30230 (5th Cir. Aug. 29, 2013). (more…)

On August 23rd, OSHA released the long awaited proposed rule on silica. The proposed regulation would split the regulation of silica into two separate standards, one affecting the general and maritime industries and the other affecting the construction industry. The silica standard has not been updated since the early 1970s. This proposed rule would significantly change the manner that silica is regulated in all industries, setting a permissible exposure limit of 50 micrograms of respirable crystalline silica per cubic meter on a time weighted average. Currently, there is no specific standard related to silica; rather it is part of all regulated air contaminants under 29 CFR 1910.1000.  (more…)

Just last week, the U.S. Department of Labor released numbers regarding workplace fatalities.  On the positive side, the overall numbers decreased, but numbers for the oil and gas industry rose dramatically (up 23%) in 2012.  The newly appointed Secretary stated:  “Job gains in oil and gas and construction have come with more fatalities and that is unacceptable.”https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=24603  (more…)