The Gulf Coast Heat Wave: A New Challenge for Offshore Oil and Gas Industry

The Gulf Coast of the United States is experiencing a severe heat wave that has created a new hazard for offshore oil and gas workers. According to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), a federal agency that oversees offshore oil and gas operations, “multiple recent instances” of workers suffering from heat-related illnesses have been reported, requiring medical evacuation to shore.

The heat wave has been caused by a combination of factors, including an emerging El Nino pattern in the Pacific Ocean, which affects global weather patterns. Human-induced climate change is also a significant concern, as this raises average temperatures globally. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), July 2023 was the hottest month on record worldwide, with average global ocean surface temperatures predicted to hit a new record in August.

The water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico has reached 88 degrees Fahrenheit (31 degrees Celsius) in many areas off the coast of Texas and Louisiana, according to the National Data Buoy Center. The heat index, which measures how hot it feels when humidity is factored in, has risen as high as 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius). These conditions are common in the Persian Gulf offshore oil industry, but are less often found on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The high temperatures and humidity can pose serious health risks for offshore oil and gas workers, who often work long hours in physically demanding conditions. Some of the symptoms of heat-related illnesses include dehydration, dizziness, nausea, headache, muscle cramps, confusion, and fainting. In severe cases, heat stroke can occur, which damages vital organs and sometimes can be fatal.

To prevent and treat heat-related illnesses, BSEE advises offshore oil companies to take extra precautions, such as providing adequate hydration, ventilation, and cooling facilities for workers; monitoring workers’ vital signs and symptoms; scheduling periodic breaks and rotations; and having trained medical personnel on board. Additionally, BSEE encourages workers to report any signs of heat-related illness to their supervisors and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

BSEE also reminds everyone the public offshore oil companies are required to report any incidents involving heat-related illnesses to the agency within one hour of occurrence. BSEE will investigate the causes and circumstances of such incidents, and take appropriate enforcement actions if necessary.

The heat wave is expected to continue for the next few weeks, according to meteorologists. As the world faces more frequent and intense heat waves due to climate change, offshore oil and gas workers will need to adapt to these changing conditions in order to protect themselves from the dangers of extreme heat.

We at the Herd Law Firm are proud to suppport maritime workers and passengers in all types of struggles on the waterways, and never waver in our commitment to help these maritime workers and their families when they are injured.



  1. The Maritime Executive: “Multiple” Offshore Oil Workers Medevaced Due to Severe Heat Wave
  2. Bloomberg: Offshore Oil Workers Fall Ill as 115-Degree Heat Sears the US Gulf Coast
  3. Maritime Executive: Environment News

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