U.S. Government to Bear Costs of Atchafalaya Channel Dredging Accident

The U.S. Government must cover the bulk of $13.8 million in damages a pipeline owner faces after faulty Army Corps of Engineers navigational charts led to a collision, a federal judge ruled.

A barge owned by Weeks Marine hit and ruptured Contango Operators’ natural gas pipeline on Feb. 24, 2010, while dredging the Atchafalaya Channel offshore Louisiana.

The released gas and condensate ignited on the water’s surface, and the resulting fire could be seen from miles away.

U.S. Coast Guard officials who hustled to the scene ultimately found that the dredge crew had been following outdated and incorrect navigational charts. It took Contango 35 days to get the pipeline repaired and back online.

Contango, a Houston-based independent oil and gas firm, and its insurer, Certain Underwriters, sued Weeks Marine and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2011.

The federal complaint claimed that the United States, one and the same with the Corps of Engineers, and Weeks Marine were negligent under federal maritime law.

Press Release, April 2, 2014

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