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Fluor Lawsuit Claims Failure of Well Device

Times Staff Writer

Fluor Corp.'s Western Offshore Drilling and Exploration subsidiary has filed an $8-million lawsuit in federal court claiming that an oil well blowout preventer manufactured by NL Industries twice failed during drilling operations off the China coast.

A spokesman for New York-based NL said Friday that the company had not yet been served and a spokesman for Irvine-based Fluor declined to comment on the action, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

However, in documents filed with the court, the Fluor subsidiary alleges that the blowout preventer, designed to prevent the uncontrolled release of oil and gas from wells during drilling, malfunctioned twice after it was installed on a Fluor-owned drilling ship.

As a result of the alleged failures, both of which occurred during offshore drilling operations in Chinese waters, Fluor said the drilling operation was shut down for a total of nearly 20 days at a loss of about $4 million.

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In addition to actual losses, the suit seeks damages totaling another $4 million. The Fluor subsidiary said it is entitled to the additional money because NL Industries “fraudulently and maliciously” sold the company a blowout preventer that was inferior to one Western Offshore previously had purchased.


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