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 10:39 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Tethered to an IV drip, 71-year-old Shin Young Ja lies under a thin fleece blanket, nursing a broken back and wracked with survivor's guilt.
updated 7:23 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Family members of the missing passengers are pinning slim hopes on floundering air pockets.
updated 12:14 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
An Iranian mother slaps and then forgives her 17-year old son's murderer in dramatic scenes at the gallows.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
An "extraordinary" video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
updated 8:30 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Explore each side's case, reconstructed from Pistorius' court affidavit and the prosecution's case during last year's bail hearing.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Mentions of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests or political reform are still censored in China.
updated 5:34 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
The Hadza are one of the last communities of hunter-gatherers in the world -- but losing their land.
updated 7:46 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
In choosing to change a traditional practice, Francis is being as radical as Jesus was in his own time.
updated 7:13 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Too weak. Can't handle pressure. Unattractive to sponsors. Susie Wolff has heard it all.
updated 6:28 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
updated 8:30 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
It's like finding a needle in a universe-wide haystack. Researchers have located a planet roughly the size of Earth that could be habitable.
updated 5:40 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Dubai, long champion of all things biggest, longest and most expensive, will soon have some competition from a neighboring country.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT