Oil Rig Explosion Injures Crew Member, 2 Still Missing
November 17, 2012

Two Missing, 11 Injured Following Friday Oil Platform Explosion

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

At least 11 people were injured and two others have been reported missing following an explosion at an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday, various media outlets are reporting.

According to CNN Wire Service reports, the explosion occurred approximately 20 miles off the coast of the town of Grand Isle, Louisiana. The explosion triggered a fire on board the platform, which was used for production purposes and not for drilling, and also resulted in roughly 28 gallons of fuel spilling into the area, members of the Coast Guard told the media following the incident.

Those injured were successfully lifted from the platform, and nine additional crew members were safely evacuated, according to CNN. Four of the wounded were transported to the West Jefferson Medical Center and were listed in critical condition, while rescue planes and helicopters were still on the lookout for the two missing workers as of 5:00pm Eastern time on Friday evening, they added.

The explosion, which serves as "a vivid reminder of the dangers involved in offshore drilling and the risk it poses to the gulf's ecosystem and shoreline," occurred while "workers were using a torch to cut an oil line," Michael Kunzelman of the Associated Press (AP) explained on Friday.

"The site of Friday's blaze is a production platform in shallow water, rather than an exploratory drilling rig looking for new oil on the seafloor almost a mile deep," he added. "A sheen of oil about a half-mile long and 200 yards wide was reported on the Gulf surface, but officials believe it came from residual oil on the platform."

The platform is operated by Houston-based Black Elk Energy, and a spokesman from that firm told CNN that the fire has been successfully extinguished. In a statement released Friday, the Coast Guard said that the cause of the explosion was under investigation by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and that they would offer their assistance as needed in the probe.

In a brief message posted to their website, Black Elk Energy said that they had personnel on the scene of the explosion and additional representatives en route. They also said that they were still collecting information about the incident, and that a full statement would be released when they had more details.

Friday's incident came just one day after British Petroleum (BP) agreed to plead guilty to felony charges stemming from the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that was ultimately responsible for the single largest offshore petroleum spill in US history.

As part of that settlement, BP will plead guilty to obstruction of justice charges, while also paying $4.5 billion in damages and an additional $1.26 billion in criminal fees as a result of the incident, which resulted in the deaths of 11 members of the Deepwater Horizon crew. Furthermore, two employees will also be brought up on charges of manslaughter in connection with the disaster. The plea agreement must now be approved by a US Federal Court before it becomes official.