Contractor is killed at Eagle Ford construction site

A contractor working in the Eagle Ford Shale was killed Monday morning at a BHP Billiton Petroleum construction site in Karnes County.

James Dean “Jimmy” Burnett, 25, of Goliad, died when a pipe fell on him, striking his head and neck, said Russell Swize, chief deputy with the Karnes County Sheriff’s Office.

The accident happened about 10 a.m., and after responders tried CPR, Burnett was declared dead at the scene.

Burnett worked for Jet Maintenance Inc., a Victoria-based oil field services company, according to BHP Petroleum.

“Operations at the site were immediately stopped and a full investigation is under way,” a statement on the BHP Petroleum website said. “Our immediate thoughts and condolences are with the family, friends and colleagues of the deceased.”

A Jet Maintenance representative said the company could not comment on the incident.

Services are pending with Grace Funeral Home of Goliad.

Since 2009, at least 11 other employees working for drilling companies and spinoff industries in Eagle Ford Shale counties have died in worksite accidents, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigations obtained earlier this year by the San Antonio Express-News under the Freedom of Information Act.

OSHA records for the last decade do not show any accidents or enforcement inspections for Jet Maintenance. The company’s work includes building lease roads, pipelines, pads for drilling rigs and ponds for hydraulic fracturing operations.

Burnett died at a pad construction site.

BHP is one of the largest operators in the Eagle Ford, with more than 330,000 acres in the region, according to Hart Energy.

The company halted construction at the site of the fatality, but its production and drilling operations are continuing, a company spokesman said.

BHP Billiton Petroleum is the Houston-based oil and gas arm of the Australian mining giant that bought Petrohawk Energy Corp. in 2011. Petrohawk was among the earliest companies in the shale field and in 2008 drilled the first successful Eagle Ford well in La Salle County.

Express-News archives were used for this report.