VENICE, La.— This morning at approximately 9am Central Time, a fire
broke out on board a Black Elk Energy oil rig. The rig, a production platform,
was southeast of Grand Isle, Louisiana. While no drilling was going on
at the time of the fire, it is reported that maintenance workers were
cutting a pipe when some oil got loose, that could have caused the fire.
There were between 26 and 28 people on board during the time of the explosion
and four were evacuated before the incident.
News sources such as The Houston Chronicle, USA Today, CBS, and Fuelfix.com
have reported that two workers are dead, eleven have been injured and
at least two are believed missing. The eleven injured workers were airlifted
to West Jefferson Medical Center. Four were said to be in critical condition
after suffering serious burns. Once these individuals are stabilized they
will be admitted to the Baton Rouge Burn Center.
The two reported missing allegedly jumped from the platform after it exploded.
Immediately after the incident, the Coast Guard assessed the damage and
other private boats helped search for the missing crew. Coast Guard officials
speculate that as many as 15 workers could be missing.
The Coast Guard had previously cleared the site, saying there was no pollution
in the area. The platform was for oil production from an established well,
unlike the well that was used when the Deepwater Horizon explosion occurred.
The platform was also a shallow-water production platform, whereas the
well that blew out in 2010 was in mile-deep water.
While the explosion doesn't pose nearly as much of an ecological threat
as that of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, a team of environmental enforcement
inspectors are flying to the scene. They will scan for evidence of oil
spilling and investigate the cause of the explosion. Reports say that
while the fire was extinguished two hours after erupting, an oil sheen
has spread, covering more than two miles of area of water.
The Coast Guard captain has said that since the platform was not actively
producing oil, it is not believed that this incident will result in a
major environmental disaster. In his own words, "It's not going
to be an uncontrolled discharge from everything we're getting right
The executive director of Port Fourchon said, "The concern at this
point is more along the lines of the lives of the personnel on the platform."
Ironically, the accident occurred the day after BP settled criminal charges,
agreeing to a $4 billion settlement for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion
in the gulf.
Black Elk Energy is an independent oil and gas company headquartered in
Houston. It owns 854 wells and 155 platforms. While a small fire occurred
on a Black Elk platform in February of 2011 in the Gulf of Mexico, it
was quickly contained. In August, Black Elk Energy was named one of the
fastest-growing privately held companies by Inc. Magazine. The company
has not released any comment about the explosion yet.
When it comes to handling offshore injury cases, Arnold & Itkin has
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The oil and gas industry is a dangerous field. According to the
United States Department of Labor a total of 120 fatal work injuries occurred in this industry in 2008.
The three most common fatal events were transportation accidents, contact
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*Since this blog was posted, one person has been confirmed dead and the
other worker remains missing. Initial reports that "two workers were
dead and two workers were missing" were erroneous.
*The oil sheen has been reported to cover one-half mile by 200 yards, not
two miles, as this blog post relayed.