When it comes to the oil industry, particularly near the Gulf of Mexico, there are two terms that are often used interchangeably and are often misunderstood. Although the terms ‘oil rig’ and ‘oil platform’ may conjure up the same types of images, they are not the same thing at all. In fact, there is a lot of crossover and confusion in the terminology. However, understanding the underlying mechanics of both of these will help you understand the distinction.
The short explanation is that an oil platform is a permanent structure that is fixed to the floor of the ocean and an oil rig is a movable platform that is moved from place to place by a barge and then secured to a temporary location. However, it gets a bit more complicated than that.
Oil platforms have three main parts.
- The jacket, or legs, are secured to the ocean floor.
- The deck is a large flat surface, and
- The modules that include the drilling apparatus, crew quarters, storage containers, and more that are fixed to the deck of the platform.
A basic oil platform is fixed to one permanent position on the ocean floor with anchors and is not meant to be moved. It is a long-term and stable facility where oil can be pumped and produced because it is large and able to host a variety of equipment and the crew members needed to operate it. Because of this, oil platforms are built in locations that are known to have long-term oil deposits.
There are many types of oil platforms that are fairly similar. Compliant towers, for example, are fixed platforms much like other oil platforms, but they have flexible and narrow jackets. This results in them moving in the waves and wind. There are also platforms that are SPAR, subsea, and tension-leg varieties, as well as various combinations of all types.
When a person uses the term ‘oil rig,’ that person is often referring to a jack up rig. This is a platform that is movable, with very tall legs that can be moved up and down. This allows the platform to be towed into place and then the legs are lowered onto the ocean floor. The result is a stable but temporary platform where drilling and other types of work can be completed. These are usually used in shallower water and used for smaller deposits of oil.
Injuries on an Oil Rig or Oil Platform
Regardless of the type of platform or rig that you work on, if you are injured in an accident while working on one of these, you may be entitled to compensation under the Jones Act or Longshore Workers’ Act. The attorneys at Kolodny Law Firm have years of experience specializing in maritime law and can advise you of your legal options and help you get the compensation to which you are entitled. Compensation may include medical expenses, loss of income, and more. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.