Team Investigators –
JOHN L. SCHUMACHER, MChE, PE, CFI, CFPS
JOHN M. (JAY) FREEMAN, MS, PE, CFEI
DENNIS E. SHELP, MS, PE, CFI, CFEI
ZACHARY J. JASON, PE, CFEI
BRENT A. FUKUDA, PE, PEng, CFEI
SHAWN A. SAPP, Ph.D.
The Right Intel Solves the Problem
Along with a growing global demand for oil and gas comes an increased frequency in industry accidents. These accidents typically result in property damage, environmental contamination, business interruption claims, severe injury, and loss of life. Not only do they involve fires and explosions, but also include mechanical and structural failures and bodily injury. The multi-disciplinary team at AEI has investigated losses involving all facets of the oil and gas industry – exploration and drilling rigs, petrochemical facilities and refineries, distribution pipelines, gasoline stations, and everything in between. We have worked at facilities on and off shore, domestically and overseas.
Oil and Gas
Clients that have relied on AEI to investigate, analyze, and determine failures include fortune 500 utility companies, pipeline companies, drilling and service providers, petroleum refiners, insurance companies, appliance manufacturers, and major propane producers and distributors.
Oil and gas investigative services include:
With over 2.3 million miles of pipeline in the United States alone, the potential for accidents is very high. Pipeline accidents occur every day on both large and small scales. The causes can be as simple as digging or drilling which strikes an underground pipe. They can also be complex in nature because there are automated systems that control pipeline operations and gas compression stations. With older pipelines, failures can be associated with metallurgical or materials issues such as corrosion or stress corrosion cracking coupled with inadequate maintenance. Design and manufacturer defects can also play a causal. Whatever the cause, AEI has experts equipped to properly investigate pipeline accidents and work effectively with the many competing government organizations involved.
Recent technological breakthroughs in exploration and extraction have increased the types of hazards associated with hydraulic fracturing. Not only has fracturing helped abandoned wells begin producing again through new stimulation techniques, but also previously overlooked reservoirs are now being processed, allowing for the extraction of oil and gas from large shale formations. The sheer number of wells utilizing hydraulic fracturing has increased in recent years. The extreme pressures and volatile chemicals associated with this technology can lead to a wide array of accidents involving equipment malfunctions, drilling rig accidents, and gas leaks associated with fires and explosions. Experts at AEI are equipped to address the wide array of possible accidents involving mechanical, chemical, electrical, and structural elements.
Oil Field and Drilling Rig
The average consumer takes for granted the process by which gas is extracted from the earth. Yet the upstream side of the industry involving oil fields and drilling operations is extremely hazardous due to the potential release of ignitable liquids and gas. The ensuing fire and/or explosion related to a release can cause devastating injuries to personnel and large financial losses due to the stoppage of production. Further, the inherently dangerous nature of the equipment involved can contribute to many personal injuries associated with machine guarding, slips/falls, overhead hazards, equipment malfunctions/design issues, and high pressure failures not related to hydrocarbons. By identifying and examining the affected equipment and/or components, and analyzing the history and events preceding the loss, our experts will determine the root cause. Understanding the root cause helps our clients make informed decisions on how to handle the claim and prevent future recurrence.
Refining, Storage and Transportation
Due to the sheer size, failures and incidents involving refineries and gas plant equipment are typically expensive and often deadly. There are many factors that need to be evaluated to determine the root cause of the failure. This can include plant operation, equipment maintenance, training of plant personnel, operator error, and failure of a system or an individual component. AEI has extensive experience and a proven track record investigating fires and/or explosions at refineries and other petrochemical facilities. Our engineers also have widespread knowledge and experience investigating accidents involving the storage and transportation of processed hydrocarbons and other volatile chemicals.
Specialized Equipment and Machinery
Machinery utilized in the oil and gas industry can have unique design features. Therefore, an expert with the proper knowledge and experience must evaluate accidents involving this equipment. Past investigations handled by AEI involve equipment as small as gas valves and small piping to large industrial compressor stations and automated SCADA control systems. Overload, fatigue, wear, poor welds, improper repair, lack of maintenance, and operator error are some of the common causes of equipment and machinery incidents.
AEI has engineers that apply their technical knowledge to the investigation of incidents involving various specialized equipment and machinery including:
• Derricks, substructures, and drilling rigs.
• Specialized pumps, compressors, and motors.
• Storage tanks and fractionation towers.
• Drilling equipment.
• Pipe elevators and other specialized lifting equipment.
• Boilers, heaters, and reactors.
• Control system components including pressure transmitters, flow sensors, level gages, and thermocouples.