Fears of a major environmental disaster 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana in the gulf of Mexico heightened on Thusrday evening after an oil rig that had exploded the day before sank

The events

US Coast Guard District Eight command center New Orleans , La. first received report of an explosion and fire aboard a mobile offshore drilling unit located about 42 miles south of Venice off the Louisiana coast in the gulf of Mexico at about 10 pm central time on Tuesday April 20th, 2010.

Various Coast Guard units responded to the emergency with some of the following resources:

From Station New Orleans:

  • Two HH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopters and crews

From Aviation Training Center, Mobile, Ala.:

  • One HH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopter and crew
  • One HH-60 rescue helicopter and crew
  • One HC-144 Ocean Sentry rescue plane and crew

The following  cutters may also have been involved from an early stage: Pompano, Zephyr,  Razorbill, Pelican, and Cobia.

The  semi submersible drilling rig deep water Horizon

The company owning the Horizon rig Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG) (SIX: RIGN)

is the world’s largest offshore drilling contractor and the largest operator of mobile offshore drilling units with a fleet of roughly 140 units.Transocean was operating Horizon on behalf of BP PLC. preliminary rescue efforts coordinated between the Coast Guard , Transocean emergency and Family Response Team and BP Exploration and Production Inc., established that the rig  located approximately 41 miles offshore Louisiana on Mississippi Canyon block 252 had been staffed by 126 personnels when a massive explosion followed by a raging fire took place.Were evacuated safely from the rig 115 personnels among whom seventeen were injured, while 11 personnels had been missing.An investigation to determine the cause of the fire was being  initiated by Transocean as various resources were being employed to battle the fire which visibly was engulfed most of the rig.Additional contingencies were being reviewed with the Coast Guard given the presence of very large quantity of hydrocarbon .

BP response to the crisis

BP emergency response provided 32 spill response vessels capable of pumping up to  171,000 barrels per day, supported by an overall storage capacity offshore of close to 300,000 barrels.In addition 4 aircraft were on standby with more than 100,000 gallons of dispersant.A special web site  www.jointinformation.com was set to coordinate release of timely information during the crisis.The situation took a turn for the worst on Thusrady morning when the uncontrollable fire caused the rig to sink underwater.

Environment At Risk

The prospect of a major environmental disaster comes at a very difficult time for the industry which had hoped that President Obama would expend drilling in areas of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coast that are very sensitive to environmentalist.We are not able to establish the extent to which the sinking of Horizon  may contribute to more hydrocarbons flowing unimpeded from the well that the rig had opened on the sea bed at 5000 feet below surface.We are monitoring the situation and gathering more technical insight into the matter.



An Industry on Edge

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