Environmental Protection

Gulf Gas Well Ignited Tuesday Evening, BSEE Confirms

All 44 workers were safely evacuated from Well A-3 after they lost control of it Tuesday morning, and it began leaking natural gas. The gas ignited at 10:50 p.m.

Natural gas that began leaking from a Gulf of Mexico well about 55 miles off the Louisiana coast on July 23 ignited that evening, the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement confirmed Wednesday. The fire aboard the Hercules 265 Rig located southwest of Grand Isle, La., ignited at 10:50 p.m. CDT. No one was on board at the time and no one has been injured, according to the latest statement posted by BSEE.

The agency and the U. S. Coast Guard set up a command center to manage their response to the incident, which began when Walter Oil and Gas Corporation experienced a loss of control of Well A-3 at about 8:45 a.m. on an unmanned platform while doing completion work on the sidetrack well to prepare the well for production. The company reported all 44 personnel were safely evacuated from the Hercules 265 jack-up rig.

A BSEE overflight photograph during daylight showed a cloud of natural gas above the rig, and the agency reported there was "a light sheen on the water one-half mile by 50 feet in area that is quickly dissipating." Its July 23 release said a firefighting vessel was expected to be on location that evening with both water and foam firefighting capabilities. "The operator, Walter Oil and Gas Corporation, will be conducting a site assessment prior to beginning any work on the well. BSEE will be reviewing and approving all plans and procedures to stop the flow of gas and secure the well. The U.S. Coast Guard is providing safety management oversight and have deployed the following resources: the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter and crew Pompano, one MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans and one HC-144 Ocean Sentry from Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile. BSEE will be conducting an investigation into the incident's cause," it stated.

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