Federal authorities will not issue any citations to Chevron for an explosion at a well site in Pennsylvania that killed a worker, despite findings by a state agency that the suggested the death was the result of human error.
The US Occupational Safety & Health Administration (Osha) said that its investigation of the February fire on Chevron's Lanco well pad in Greene County "concluded that the exact cause of the incident could not be determined".
"At the conclusion of an in-depth, six-month investigation, Osha determined that no citations would be issued," it said.
Osha's announcement comes about a week after Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a report saying Chevron may have allowed an untrained contractor to work without proper approval or supervision on a well shortly before that well blew up and caught fire.
A 27-year-old employee of contractor Cameron International named Ian McKee was killed in the blast. Another worker was injured. The fire burned for days and affected two other wells on the pad.
The DEP report implicated a loosened lockscrew assembly that allowed gas to leak from the well as the cause of the blast.
"Although the exact reason why the gland nut and lockscrew were ejected from the wellhead is not conclusively known, the suspected cause of the failure is that the assembly was loosened several days before this incident and was not properly re-secured," that report said.
Investigators believe the assembly was loosened when two Cameron workers attempted to remove tubing hangers from the Lanco-7H well. One of the workers had three years’ experience and the other "greenhat" worker had almost no oilfield experience, according to the report.
Chevron's management policies require any worker with less than six months' experience to be approved by the well site manager or upper management but this step seems to have been overlooked by Chevron’s representative on location.
Chevron said last week that it was reviewing the DEP report: "Chevron is committed to safe operations. We look forward to continuing to work with the Pennsylvania DEP and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration in order to fully understand what happened with this incident, and we are determined to prevent it from happening again."
McKee's family filed a wrongful death suit against Chevron in June.