Another blowout occurred on a drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, just 55 miles off the coast of Louisiana. The Associated Press reports that natural gas flowed uncontrolled from the well and 44 workers were evacuated from the drilling rig, but no injuries were reported. The well continued to burn on Wednesday, after it caught fire following the blowout.
As with the natural gas leak that occurred from another well 75 miles off the coast of Louisiana on July 8, authorities have stated that the damage from this most recent leak would be nowhere near the extent of the 2010 BP oil spill.
The federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement inspectors reported a sheen covering a half-mile after flying over the area. A spokeswoman for the Bureau, Eileen Angelico, told the AP that the blowout occurred “near an unmanned offshore gas platform that was not currently producing natural gas.”
Workers were on a jackup rig, or a portable drilling rig, operated by Hercules Offshore, Inc., a contractor for exploration and production company, Walter Oil & Gas Corp. The latter reported that the rig was completing a sidetrack well, which is defined as reentering a well for the purpose of “deviating from the existing well bore to [either] achieve production from an alternate zone” or to fix a problem in the existing well bore.
Angelico said that the cause of the fire is unknown, and that they are unsure of “how and when crews would attempt to extinguish the blaze.”
Just weeks ago, a natural gas leak occurred from another well in the Gulf, owned by Houston-based Talos Energy. The company said that they were in the process of abandoning the well and attempting to plug it permanently when the leak occurred.
Despite repeated assurances that the two incidents this month so far will not have as severe an impact as the BP oil spill, gas leaking into the ocean is far from harmless, especially in a recovering environment like the Gulf.
Alisha is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.