Skip to main content

Natural gas rig burns in Gulf of Mexico

By Joe Sutton and Dave Alsup, CNN
updated 2:16 AM EDT, Thu July 25, 2013
The Hercules 265 drilling rig sits in about 150 feet of water, officials say.
The Hercules 265 drilling rig sits in about 150 feet of water, officials say.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Firefighting boats are moved out of the fire's range, BSEE says
  • The blast occurs on a platform roughly 60 miles off Grand Isle, Louisiana
  • Crew members hit an unexpected pocket of gas
  • A Coast Guard vessel witnesses the blast late Tuesday

(CNN) -- Two firefighting boats were moved to a safe distance Wednesday as they awaited help in fighting a fire that erupted on a natural gas rig in the Gulf of Mexico, officials say.

"A third vessel equipped with firefighting capability and (an) improved monitoring system" was expected to arrive around midday, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said.

A Coast Guard cutter was on hand to "assess the situation and enforce the security zone," it said, while another was on the way.

Forty-four workers were evacuated from the rig earlier Tuesday after a blowout occurred, officials said. Crew members aboard the Hercules 265, leased by Houston-based Walter Oil & Gas Corp., were preparing the well for production when they hit an unexpected pocket of gas.

No injuries were reported.

Natural gas was leaking at the site, but no oil was being released, the BSEE said after it and the Coast Guard sent flights over the rig Wednesday morning.

"There is no observed sheen on the water surface," the safety bureau said in a news release.

"As the rig fire continues, the beams supporting the derrick and rig floor have folded and have collapsed over the rig structure," which is in about 150 feet of water, it said. "Under BSEE's direction, Walter Oil & Gas has begun preparations to move a jack-up rig on location to potentially drill a relief well."

The platform, about 60 miles southwest of Grand Isle, Louisiana, exploded around 11:45 p.m. Tuesday, the Coast Guard reported. It said a Coast Guard vessel witnessed the blast.

A light sheen about a half-mile wide was initially spotted by environmental inspectors but dissipated "almost immediately," the BSEE said.

March: Relief wells, 'heavy mud' plug used in North Sea gas leak

CNN's Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:10 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
In South Korea, volunteer divers are risking their lives to rescue victims of the sunken ferry.
updated 9:01 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Park Jee Young, 22, helped passengers escape as the Sewol ferry sank -- giving out life jackets while refusing to wear one herself.
updated 12:43 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
What did outgoing manager David Moyes get wrong in his six months with English Premier League football team Manchester United?
updated 5:25 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
In honor of Shakespeare's birthday, here are 15 of the world's most amazing theaters.
updated 1:34 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
CNN exclusive: Australian officials are hammering out a new agreement for widening the Flight 370 search area.
updated 8:28 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Malaysian officials sent to brief Chinese families are armed with little to no information.
updated 11:45 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
When a team of Indian surgeons opened up the stomach of a 63-year-old man, they had no idea they'd extract a fortune.
updated 3:01 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Do these photos CNN of gun-toting men wearing green uniforms prove Russian forces are in eastern Ukraine?
updated 5:11 AM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
If the Duchess wears it, then your fashion career is sorted for life.
updated 9:30 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Tucked away near the border with Cameroon, this poor corner of Nigeria is no stranger to such brazen, violent acts.
updated 8:34 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
An infant mountain Gorilla sits in the dense jungle canopy on the edge of Uganda's Bwindi National Park in this 29, January 2007 photo. Bwindi, or the 'Impenetrable Forest' as it is known to many tourists is home to the majority of Uganda's rare and endangered mountain gorilla population where plans are underway to habituate two more gorilla family groups to counter growing demand from a flourishing gorilla trek tourism business, a major source of income for the Uganda tourism Authority. AFP PHOTO / STUART PRICE. (Photo credit should read STUART PRICE/AFP/Getty Images)
Tthe constant threat of poaching, deforestation and human diseases means the world's mountain gorillas could be completely wiped out.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Prince George takes a special interest in an Australian animal on a zoo trip.
updated 10:02 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
How could a teenage stowaway survive hours in a jet's sub-zero wheel well at 38,000 feet?
updated 12:28 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
updated 6:58 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
See what life is like for superyacht stewardesses-in-training. One thing's for certain -- they can never say "no."
updated 10:57 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Home of Bruce Lee, divine dim sum, lofty buildings, loftier real estate prices and easy access to the great outdoors.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT