Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Making False Statements in Relation to Blowout Preventer Testing on Oil Platform in Gulf of Mexico
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Louisiana
Acting U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that KENNETH JOHNS, age 46, of Rosharon, Texas, pled guilty today to making false statements in relation to the veracity of blowout preventer testing on an offshore oil and gas platform located at Ship Shoal 225 positioned on a federal mineral lease in the Gulf of Mexico. Specifically, JOHNS pled guilty to one count of making false statements to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s (BSEE) Safety and Incident Investigation Division (SIID) of the United States Department of Interior.
According to court documents, on or about November 27, 2012, production and well workover operations were being conducted on the platform and the blowout preventer system had to be tested. A blowout preventer system is designed to ensure well control and prevent potential release of oil and gas and possible loss of well control.
On or about November 28, 2012, JOHNS and another worker created a false blowout preventer test. The next day when BSEE inspectors conducted a routine compliance inspection of the platform, the fabricated blowout preventer pressure test chart was presented to the BSEE inspectors with the expectation that it would be a passing test and the inspectors would not find the platform to be in non-compliance for failing to properly test the blowout preventer system. JOHNS signed the fabricated pressure chart and a schematic of the testing sequence as if he had actually been involved in the BOP testing.
During subsequent investigation of the veracity of the blowout preventer test by the Department of Interior, JOHNS lied and told investigators the BOP chart with his signature was pre-signed and that he had been testing a pump when he made the chart.
JOHNS faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years per count and/or a maximum fine of $250,000 per count. U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown set sentencing for March 22, 2018.
Acting U.S. Attorney Evans praised the work of the Department of Interior-Office of Inspector General (Energy Investigations Unit) with assistance from BSEE, and the Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division in investigating this matter. Assistant United States Attorney Emily K. Greenfield of the United States Attorney’s Office’s National Security Unit is in charge of the prosecution.
Updated December 20, 2017