Explosion Erupts on Gulf of Mexico Platform

Two Dead, Two Missing in GOM Offshore Platform Explosion

A fire occurred on an offshore oil and natural gas platform in West Delta Block 32 in the Gulf of Mexico Friday injuring several people, reported Houston's KHOU TV, citing the U.S. Coast Guard. The fire has been extinguished. 

According to the news station, four people were airlifted to a nearby hospital and were in critical condition. Two more people are said to be missing following the tragedy on the platform - operated by Houston-based and privately-owned Black Elk Energy Co.

Black Elk did not respond to requests for comment.

The Coast Guard has reported that production was not flowing from the well and at least 26 to 28 people had been aboard the platform. The workers were cutting into a line on the platform when sparks from a torch hit a storage tank, which then exploded, resulting in a two-by-a-quarter mile oil sheen around the site. The platform is located around 17 miles offshore Grand Isle, Louisiana in 21 feet of water.

The Coast Guard has activated a "command center" to investigate the incident, consisting of two helicopter teams, one from Mobile, Alabama and one from New Orleans to help with the search, reported KHOU. The government agency also called in two small boat stations out of Grand Isle and Venice to assist.

Black Elk hasn't filed a recent work permit or exploration plan for that block. The most recent plan filed for the block WD 32 was Aug. 30, 2010 for Maritech to remove platform Caisson 3.


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Kenny Ajan sr.  |  January 18, 2013
I worked six years on the platform wd,32. If anyone could send me a good picture of the platform it would be great. I think what might have happened is the tank that was being cut or welded on was not properly isolated from the the gas source.
Richard  |  November 19, 2012
Sounds like a clear failure of management to apply training, permit to work and risk assessment principles to enforce a safe working environment. Carrying out hot work on a facility filled with flammable materials must be highly controlled and supervised. Its not a new problem, the regulations already exist of course.
Daniel Dominick  |  November 17, 2012
There is absolutely no surprise in yet another fatal occurence on yet another offshore asset in US waters. The management in the GOM is an absolute disgrace. To have the losses being experienced within this sector accepted by the industry leaders is a disgraceful waste of assets. Forget about legistlation from goverment the leaders of our industry should be bringing the high level managers to account for these incidents. HS&E is not just about telling workers to put in incident reporting cards. It makes me absolutely rage when upper safety managers go on about having the personnel under our supervision to put in 4 reporting cards per week. They become erelavent. They do not prevent absolutely deplorable management. Facts speak for themselves.
Jamel Jackson  |  November 16, 2012
Wow! That is really sad, why didnt they use fire blankets to cover the side of the storage that would be exposed to sparks? That is a shame people had too lose their lives because of over looking safety standards
trey  |  November 16, 2012
This is a horrible accident.. we need regulation on the tools and practices used in this volatile environment spark-less grinders and spark-less cutting equipment keep this type of accident from happening.. Thoughts and prayers go out to the familys involved..
Clay Harryman  |  November 16, 2012
My prayers are with the folks on board and their families. But also with this country - that this will not further impact the negative image that the media has put on the industry.