- (Photo:Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement)
A natural gas drilling rig about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico partially collapsed due to a ruptured natural gas well, ignited and has been burning uncontrollably for nearly two days.
U.S. regulators on Wednesday revealed that firefighters are continuing to battle the blaze that started after the Hercules 265 natural gas platform experienced a blowout around 10:45 p.m. local time Tuesday.
Eileen Angelico, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, said no one was on board when the fire started and it is not yet clear what caused the explosion, adding that an investigation is already underway why officials determine how to put out the fire.
The rig is still on fire as of Thursday morning and suggestions about extinguishing the fire point to drilling a relief well, similar to the action to stop the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, in order to divert the natural gas and extinguish the fire.
On Wednesday federal safety authorities revealed that a large portion of the oilrig had collapsed and crashed into the ocean.
"As the rig fire continues, the beams supporting the derrick and rig floor have folded and have collapsed over the rig structure," read a statement.
The Coast Guard was restricting vessel traffic within 500 meters of the rig, while also recommending that other vessels remain at least five miles away, according to Lt. J.G. Tanner Stiehl. They were also enforcing Federal Aviation Administration temporary restrictions on aircraft up to 2,000 feet above the area, he added.
This is the most severe incident to affect a Gulf of Mexico oilrig since 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill devastated the area, with Louisiana's Lower Parishes bearing the brunt of the oil that was washed ashore. That spill began when the oilrig exploded offshore resulting in the deaths of 11 workers and the spewing tens of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.