NEW ORLEANS – The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the U.S. Coast Guard are continuing to oversee Walter Oil & Gas Corporation’s response efforts to secure the natural gas well and extinguish the subsequent fire that started after the operator’s loss of well control yesterday morning.
Both BSEE and Coast Guard conducted overflights this morning to assess the situation. Coast Guard confirmed that the fire began at 10:45 p.m. CDT July 23. There is no observed sheen on the water surface. As the rig fire continues, the beams supporting the derrick and rig floor have folded and have collapsed over the rig structure.
Two firefighting vessels were in the area and re-located to a safe distance from the fire. A third vessel equipped with fire-fighting capability and improved monitoring system is enroute and expected to arrive late morning. The 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Pompano is standing by to assess the situation and enforce the security zone. The Coast Guard Cutter Cypress is enroute and will arrive at approximately noon.
Under BSEE’s direction, Walter Oil & Gas has begun preparations to move a jack-up rig on location to potentially drill a relief well. BSEE continues to review and approve all operational plans and procedures. BSEE’s priority throughout this operation is the safety of the offshore workers and the protection of the environment.
BSEE and the Coast Guard have stood up a Command Center to respond to the event, which is happening 55 miles offshore Louisiana in 154 feet of water. Walter Oil and Gas Corporation experienced a loss of control of Well A-3 at approximately 8:45 a.m. July 23 on an unmanned platform at South Timbalier Block 220 while doing completion work on the sidetrack well to prepare the well for production. The operator reported the safe evacuation of 44 personnel from the Hercules 265 jack-up rig.
BSEE’s investigation into the cause of the loss of well control is underway in coordination with Coast Guard. Media inquiries should be referred to BSEE Public Affairs Gulf of Mexico OCS Region, (504) 736-2595.