House members want details on fatal offshore fire

Top House Democrats on Monday summoned Black Elk CEO John Hoffman to Capitol Hill to share details about the offshore production platform that claimed at least two workers’ lives.

The Nov. 16 fire ignited on the Houston-based firm’s platform about 18 mikes from Louisiana’s coast. Several workers were severely injured, and one of them died Friday. Another worker’s body was recovered days after the fire. Another worker is still missing.

The lawmakers —  including Reps. Henry Waxman of California and Ed Markey of Massachusetts — asked Hoffman to brief their staff on the explosion and gave him a deadline of Dec. 10 to arrange the meeting.

“In order to better understand how and why this incident occurred, we ask that you provide our staff with a briefing on the explosion, its possible causes and any remedial efforts your company intends to take as a response to this incident,” the lawmakers said in a letter to Hoffman.

Offshore energy regulators at the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement are investigating the incident and have warned the company that without safety improvements it could be barred from working offshore.  The agency issued more than 300 “incidents of non compliance” for violations at Black Elk facilities in the past two years.

The Chemical Safety Board has also subpoenaed records from Black Elk and Grand Isle Shipyard, the contractor working on the platform at the time of the fire.