Gulf Platform Blaze: Gas Shut Off

Thursday, July 25, 2013 @ 02:07 PM gHale

The Hercules 265 natural gas rig in the Gulf of Mexico burning.

Natural gas stopped flowing from a well that has been on fire in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, but some remaining small flames continue burning from gas still in the pipe, federal regulators said.

The well “bridged over,” which means sand and sediment collapsed into the leaking area, blocking the line, said officials at the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

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BSEE and the Coast Guard flew over the site to investigate and that is what they found.

A fire broke out on a natural gas rig in the Gulf Tuesday after 44 workers evacuated the platform, after a blowout occurred, officials said. Crew members aboard the Hercules 265 were preparing the well for production when they hit an unexpected pocket of gas. There were no injuries in the incident.

Though the derrick and drill rig floor of the Hercules 265 collapsed, the jack up structure and jack up legs remain intact, said Eileen Angelico, a spokeswoman for the BSEE.

“BSEE expects Walter Oil & Gas to submit a permit application to drill a relief well this evening,” the federal agency said Wednesday. “The permit, which would include details on the proposed well and the casing and cementing programs, must be approved by BSEE engineers before drilling could commence.”

“The company has contracted an outside environmental expert to monitor currents, wind direction and wave height for the potential trajectory of any conceivable environmental spill,” said Hercules Offshore, which owns the well, and is leasing it to Houston-based Walter Oil & Gas Corp.

If they need a relief well, the company said it will dispatch a unit to execute its drilling.

Two firefighting boats went to a safe distance Wednesday as they awaited help to fight the blaze.

Natural gas was leaking at the site, but no oil was releasing, the BSEE said.

The platform, about 60 miles southwest of Grand Isle, Louisiana, exploded late Tuesday night, the Coast Guard reported. It said a Coast Guard vessel witnessed the blast.

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