A Hercules Offshore oil and gas drilling platform, being operated by Walter Oil and Gas off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico, has reported a “blowout” event. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the US Coast Guard are responding the the scene.
Here’s what you need to know.
UPDATE – 12:30PM, July 24: Reports are now coming in that the burning oil rig has begun to collapse off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. WWLTV has reported that authorities are saying that beams supporting the derrick and rig floor have folded and collapsed.
UPDATE – 1:30AM, July 24: Reports are coming in of a fire breaking out on the evacuated oil rig. The Denver Post reports that federal officials have confirmed the fire. There were no immediate reports of injuries. A spokeswoman from BSEE has said that the natural gas leaking from the well ignited at 10:50 p.m. CDT. It is not immediately clear what caused the fire, and it is not currently known how authorities are planning on combating the blaze.
1. An Unmanned Hercules Oil & Gas Platform Has Lost Control Of Flow
Walter Oil & Gas’ Well A-3 on Hercules Platform #265, an unmanned platform at South Timbalier Block 220 lost control while doing completion work on the sidetrack well to prepare the well for production, BSEE told Heavy.com this afternoon. The Walter Oil & Gas Corporation reported the loss of well control this morning at around 9:50 a.m. BSEE told Heavy.com that the “well is flowing gas and no oil is being released.”
2. The Platform Is Near A State Park On The Louisiana Coast
The platform is located 55 miles off the coast of Louisiana’s Grand Isle State Park, and approximately 60 to 72 miles south of New Orleans. The platform is standing in “154 feet of water,” according to BSEE.
3. 47 Workers Have Been Evacuated, With No Injuries
BSEE has told Heavy.com that 44 personnel were evacuated. The Coast Guard also informed Heavy.com that the crew evacuated the platform on two life boats and were quickly rescued by a nearby offshore supply vessel, Max Cheramie.
4. BSEE & US Coast Guard Have Responded
Coast Guard has deployed a cutter and two aircraft to the platform to assess the situation. The aircrafts include a helicopter (deployed from Coast Guard Air Station in New Orleans) and a fixed wing aircraft (deployed from the Coast Guard Aviation Training Center in Mobile Alabama). BSEE inspectors are currently observing the situations from a near-by platform. BSEE is closely monitoring Walter Oil & Gas’ mobilization of its response efforts to stop the flow of gas and secure the well.
WDSU.com has reported that the FDA has placed flight restrictions for the immediate area around the platform.
According to a BSEE spokeswoman, the U.S. Coast Guard is providing safety management oversight and have deployed the following resources: the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter and crew Pompano, one MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans and one HC-144 Ocean Sentry from Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile.
5. A ‘Major Cloud of Gas’ Surrounds The Platform
Media is reporting a ‘major cloud of gas’ surrounding the shallow oil and gas platform.
Earlier this afternoon BSEE told Heavy.com that an overflight of the scene has reported a light sheen one-half mile by 50 feet in area, which is dissipating almost immediately.
This is the second spill to take place in the Gulf of Mexico this month.
UPDATE: Here’s the official press release from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement:
New Orleans, LA- The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the U. S. Coast Guard have stood up a Command Center in their continued response to the loss of well control event 55 miles offshore Louisiana in 154 feet of water. Walter Oil and Gas Corporation experienced a loss of control of Well A-3 at approximately 8:45 a.m. on an unmanned platform at South Timbalier Block 220 while doing completion work on the sidetrack well to prepare the well for production. The operator reported the safe evacuation of 44 personnel, corrected from earlier reports of 47, from the Hercules 265 jack-up rig.
The well continues to flow natural gas. From a BSEE overflight earlier today, BSEE inspectors reported a cloud of natural gas above the rig and a light sheen on the water one-half mile by 50 feet in area that is quickly dissipating.
“BSEE’s efforts today are focused on bringing this loss of well control event to a safe resolution,” stated Lars Herbst, BSEE Gulf of Mexico Regional Director. “Offshore oil and gas operators need to re-affirm their aggressive approach to the safety of well operations in light of this event and other recent well control events.”
A firefighting vessel is expected to be on location this evening with both water and foam fire fighting abilities. The operator, Walter Oil and Gas Corporation, will be conducting a site assessment prior to beginning any work on the well. BSEE will be reviewing and approving all plans and procedures to stop the flow of gas and secure the well. The U.S. Coast Guard is providing safety management oversight and have deployed the following resources: the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter and crew Pompano, one MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans and one HC-144 Ocean Sentry from Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile.
BSEE will be conducting an investigation into the incident’s cause.
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