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Investigation Launched After Contractor Killed in Drillship Accident in GOM Deepwater

One man was killed Tuesday in an accident on board a drillship working in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico for Chevron Corp.

At about 10:15 CDT, a Pacific Drilling Co. contractor was fatally injured on the Pacific Santa Ana while the drillship was operating on the Chevron-operated Keathley Canyon Block 96, Chevron spokesman Cameron Van Ast told NGI.

"The cause of the incident is being investigated," he said. "There are no reports of other injuries and there has been no environmental impact."

Operations on the drillship were shut down pending the investigation, said Pacific Drilling spokeswoman Lisa Nutting.

The Department of Interior's Bureau of Safety, Environment and Enforcement (BSEE) is investigating the incident with the U.S. Coast Guard. BSEE said the drillship "was starting operations for Chevron when the death occurred." No other details about how the accident happened were released.

Chevron and Houston-based Pacific Drilling extended their thoughts and prayers to the contractor's family, friends and colleagues. Nutting also said Pacific Drilling was "actively addressing the needs of his family and the affected employees."

The Pacific Santa Ana, constructed in 2011, is capable of operating in 12,000 feet water depth and is equipped for 35,000 feet drilling depth. It accommodates up to 200 people.

Chevron holds a 36% working interest and controls the Gila prospect in Keathley Canyon with partners BP plc (34%) and ConocoPhillips (30%).

BP in January agreed to sell equity and control of the Gila and Tiber prospects, both in Keathley, which is considered one of the most sought-after lease areas of the Lower Tertiary Trend (see Daily GPI,Jan. 28).

Under the separate agreements, BP gave operatorship of Gila to Chevron and sold stakes to Chevron and ConocoPhillips. BP also sold half (31%) of its Tiber stakes in Keathley to Chevron.

Affiliates of the trio jointly own the Gibson prospect east of Gila, where drilling was to begin this year.Chevron also plans to operate Gibson. The three partners would have the same equity in any future centralized production facility.

Chevron has been an active player in the Lower Tertiary Trend, building on its success in starting up the massive Jack/St. Malo platform, which got underway late last year (see Daily GPI, Dec. 3, 2014). Chevron also hit more pay in the Lower Tertiary earlier in January, building on the nearby Guadalupe discovery last year in which BP participated (see Daily GPI, Jan. 6; Oct. 23, 2014).

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