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Friday, November 16, 2012

Updates: fire on Gulf oil platform

Posted By on Fri, Nov 16, 2012 at 11:40 AM

Updated 12:05 p.m., following Coast Guard press conference.

Here's a quick summary of some of the updates from this morning's news of an oil platform (not a rig) that caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico at about 9:15 a.m.:

The U.S. Coast Guard announced that an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico was on fire — Facebook photos shared with KLFY-TV confirmed.

Houston station KHOU-TV reported two deaths on the platform, with two missing (presumed dead) and four with serious injuries, who were airlifted from the platform.

Update (12:05 p.m.): U.S. Coast Guard reports there no confirmed deaths, though there are two missing platform workers.

From WWL-TV: The platform is about 20 miles from Grand Isle and is owned by Houston-based Black Elk Energy (which also has offices in Louisiana). The platform workers arrived at West Jefferson Medical Center, then transported to Baton Rouge Burn Center, where they are in critical condition.

KLFY also reported that the fire likely started after platform maintenance workers cut into a pipe from which oil may have escaped. WWL reported that the platform was not producing any oil.

According to WWNO
, Black Elk Energy owns, operates or has a financial interest in more than 854 wells on 155 platforms across 430,000 acres offshore.

The Coast Guard reported that there were 26 workers on the platform (though initial reports said there were 28), and a total of nine people were air-lifted. Grand Isle EMS met other workers as they arrived on shore.

According to WWL, Plaquemines Parish officials contained the fire by 10:30 a.m., and Jefferson Parish officials later reported the fire was out.

Follow the Twitter hashtag #platformfire for breaking updates.

Update (12:05): Ed Cubanski, incident management branch chief for the 8th Coast Guard district said the fire likely started from a torch used to cut a 75-feet-long line on the platform. There may have been 28 gallons of oil in the pipe, and a one half-mile-long oil sheen has been spotted in the area. Eleven people were Medevaced to four area hospitals, and Coast Guard crew from Venice, Grand Isle and New Orleans are looking for two crewmembers. Four crewmembers are being treated for burns in Baton Rouge.

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