Oil Rig Explodes, Catches Fire, in Gulf of Mexico
Less than 24 hours after oil exploration company British Petroleum agreed to fines totaling $4.5 billion in the wake of its massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, another explosion off the coast of Louisiana is threatening to take a toll on the same region.
The United States Coast Guard has confirmed that a rig owned by Houston-based Elk Energy caught fire following an explosion this afternoon, about 25 miles southeast of Grand Isle, Louisiana. Because the rig is a production platform, as opposed to a well-drilling platform, leaking of oil into the surrounding water is hoped to be minimal. (Read More: U.S. Set to Become World’s Largest Oil Producer by 2017)
The fire has since been extinguished, but not before sending 11 people to the hospital and leaving another two missing. Four of the injured are reported to be in critical condition, while rescue airplanes and helicopters are currently scouring the area in search of the two rig workers still unaccounted for.
While no official reports have been made, Coast Guard officials speaking to the press surmised that the explosion may have been caused after maintenance workers cut into a pipe and released oil at high pressures.