History of Oil Exploration and Development in Florida
Oil exploration and production began in Florida when it was first discovered in Collier County in 1943. The strike was discovered by the Humble Oil and Refining Company after Florida’s Governor offered a $50,000 prize to whoever could be the first to find oil in the state.
Since 1943, more than 120 million barrels of oil have been produced from 8 commercial oil fields in Florida, nearly all of which has been derived from the Upper Sunniland formation, a well-defined, onshore oil reserve that stretches from Fort Myers to Miami.
Offshore Oil Drilling in Florida
Fossil fuels are being extracted off the coast of Florida through a practice known as offshore drilling. This type of oil and natural gas extraction uses large platforms that drill down into the ocean floor. As of 2019, there were at least 1,862 oil rigs off the coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico.
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
In 2010, an oil rig explosion at the Deepwater Horizon location off the coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers and injured 17 others. This explosion caused nearly 5 million barrels of oil to leak into the ocean, making it the largest oil spill in the history of the United States. More than a decade later, researchers at the University of Miami have found more than 200 million gallons of oil still polluting nearly 100,000 square miles of ocean.
Gulf of Mexico Energy Securities Act
An effort to limit offshore drilling in Florida can be found in the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) Moratorium. The act effectively bans oil and gas leasing within 100-125 miles off the coastline of Florida. Although the GOMESA moratorium expired in 2022, this area was additionally withdrawn from leasing through June 30, 2032, by the Trump Administration.
What's the Problem with Offshore Oil Drilling in Florida?
In addition to being extremely dangerous for workers, offshore oil drilling operations can severely pollute the surrounding air and water. This is because the actions necessary to drill offshore release greenhouse gases, volatile organic compounds, and other pollutants that can harm oceans, beaches, and wetlands.
Offshore oil drilling also poses a risk to animals. For example, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill killed at least 26,000 marine mammals, 82,000 birds, 6,165 sea turtles, and countless fish.
Oil spills also have a negative economic impact on industries that depend on healthy wildlife and waterways in Florida. Florida fisheries produce nearly $14 billion in revenue and account for approximately 120,000 jobs annually. Any threat to fish populations poses a huge threat to those economic gains.
Offshore Oil and Gas Worker Fatalities Under-Reported by Federal Agency
In the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) was created to improve safety and enforce environmental regulations in the offshore oil and gas industry.
However, an investigation by Drilled News and Southerly found that the number of offshore worker injuries and fatalities is being severely under-counted by the agency. Missing and inconsistent data, in addition to loopholes that allow certain casualties to go unrecorded, make the offshore industry appear safer than it really is, the investigation found.
In fact, nearly half of known offshore worker fatalities in the Gulf of Mexico from 2005 to 2019 didn’t fit BSEE’s reporting criteria, according to data from the Freedom of Information Act. What's more, offshore jobs have been declining since 2011, despite an increase in the amount of oil being produced offshore, making the remaining jobs even more dangerous.
1 Dead, 1 Injured in Florida Oil Facility Explosion
An explosion at an oil facility in North Escambia County, Florida, killed 1 person and injured another in November 2022. Escambia County EMS and Fire Rescue said the nature of the call was burns caused by an explosion. There was 1 fatality and 1 patient was transported to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The oil facility is located near Century, a rural part of North Escambia County, less than a mile from the Florida-Alabama state line.
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2 Killed, 3 Injured in Florida Industrial Explosion
Two workers were killed and 3 others were injured in a devastating industrial explosion that occurred at a welding facility in Medley, Florida, on February 21, 2023. The explosion caused a huge fireball to rise over the industrial site, followed by an expanding, billowing cloud of thick black smoke to spread over the area.
Two of the injured workers suffered traumatic injuries, one being airlifted to a local hospital. The third injured worker sustained less serious injuries and did not require hospitalization.
Get a Free Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Florida Oil Field Accident and Injury Lawyers
The personal injury lawyers at Schmidt & Clark, LLP, have experience dealing with the rights of American oilfield workers, and we are one of the only firms willing to handle oilfield workplace accidents in Florida and throughout the entire United States.
Again, if you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an oilfield accident in Florida, you should contact our oil field accident lawyers immediately by using the form below or calling our law firm toll-free 24 hrs/day by dialing (866) 588-0600 to schedule a free case review and legal options.
Clients may be able to recover fair compensation for medical expenses from an oil company in a lawsuit and a personal injury lawyer can help.