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Workers Missing After Offshore-Unit Explosion, Fire

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

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The U.S. Coast Guard late Wednesday continued the search for 11 missing crew members from the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon off the coast of Louisiana, the site of an explosion and fire Tuesday night.

News reports quoted the rig’s owner, Transocean Ltd., as saying the unit was drilling but not in production. The rig was under contract to BP Plc. A spokesman for BP was quoted as saying all company personnel were safe. There were no immediate reports of personnel on board who may be connected to contractor functions, such as painting or protective-coating operations.

At a news conference late Wednesday, Transocean Vice President Adrian Rose said that of the 126 on board the offshore unit at the time of the incident, 79 were Transocean employees, six were BP employees, and the remaining 41 were “third-party service providers.” He did not provide details on the service-provider workers, their affiliations, or the type of work they were engaged in.

Rose said the explosion and fire occurred during an operation involving the cementing of production casing. He said there was no indication of problems, and the cause of the explosion and fire were not known. He said Transocean was cooperating with government and regulatory agencies in the investigation, and he expressed regret about the injured and missing crew members.

In reply to a question from PaintSquare News, Rose said he could not say what type of activities the third-party service providers were engaged in. Typical activities of third-party workers include casing and cementing operations, he said.

The oil fire was still burning late Wednesday, and the cause of the explosion remained under investigation. Initial indications show that the explosion was not a terrorist incident, the Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard District Eight command center in New Orleans received a report at approximately 10 p.m. Tuesday of an explosion and fire aboard the drilling unit, located approximately 42 miles southeast of Venice, La. Reports indicate that there were 126 people on board the MODU at the time of the explosion.
 
The Coast Guard said late Wednesday that 115 crew members had been accounted for. Of those, 17 were med-evacuated from the scene; 94 were being transferred to shore at Port Fourchon, La., aboard an offshore supply vessel, with no major injuries to these personnel; and four crew members had been transferred to another vessel.

The Coast Guard said it was actively searching for all unaccounted personnel, with rescue helicopters, a rescue plane, and four cutters.

Spokesman for BP referred questions from PaintSquare News to Transocean Ltd. Calls to the company were not immediately returned.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Health and safety; Offshore; Oil and Gas

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