All eyes are on the Gulf of Mexico this morning as a rig fire continues to burn about 60 miles southwest of Grand Isle. The Coast Guard has a cutter at Hercules Rig #265 – and another on the way – to assess how dangerous the situation is.
The good news is that no one was hurt. Forty-four workers were evacuated safely off the rig Tuesday, but the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement – the federal agency in charge of this incident – has been very tight-lipped about what’s going on with the rig today.
Then, late Tuesday night, the gas ignited and burned through the night. BSEE has not returned numerous calls to let us know what’s going on with the fire this morning.
Of course, lots of people are understandably nervous: this rig is located not too far to the west of the Macondo well, which blew out with catastrophic consequences just 3 years and 3 months ago. When that blowout first happened, Coast Guard officials assured the media and the public that it was not a serious event and that very little, if any, oil was spilling into the Gulf. But as we know, that turned out to be untrue. Weeks later, a Purdue University expert estimated the well was spouting out 70,000 barrels of oil per day.
This case is a different: Hercules #265 is a natural gas well, not an oil well like the BP/Deepwater Horizon platform.
However, the BSEE is not releasing any information this morning about what’s going on. And that’s surprising knowing the history of south Louisiana offshore drilling and the BP oil spill three years ago.