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Story Archives: Laid-off oilfield workers may qualify for funding
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|Laid-off oilfield workers may qualify for funding|
BY TORI STILWELL
Anthony Thomas had heard the lay-off rumors, but he had just started a two-week shift on the Mars 201 deepwater oil rig, and everything was operating under normal conditions.
As the week went on, the whispers grew louder, and on June 15 his rig supervisors called a meeting to break the news.
"They told us to go ahead and get everything together because we'd be shutting operations down," said Thomas, who lives in Ridgecrest and was employed by Nabors Offshore Corporation.
When he arrived home six days later, Thomas received a phone call from a supervisor who explained that Thomas had been laid off, and he should begin filing for unemployment.
"I was angry and sad," Thomas said. "I just went back to work October last year because there was a layoff. A lot of us had just got back to getting our feet wet, and it put us right back in the hole, a real big one this time."
Thomas' story is a familiar one after the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform. The fatal blast created the largest oil spill on record and caused immeasurable damage to the Gulf Coast environment.
Little more than a month later, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar imposed a six-month moratorium on offshore drilling operations at depths of 500 feet or more, leaving thousands of rig hands idle. Although a New Orleans judge granted an injunction on the order June 22, the decision was promptly appealed by the Obama administration, and drilling activities have yet to resume.
But relief could be in sight for rig workers after BP announced Friday the creation of the $100 million Rig Worker Assistance Fund, designed to support those left unemployed after the explosion.
(For full story subscribe to The Concordia Sentinel 318-757-3646.)
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