Coast Guard crews in an 87-foot patrol boat continued the search Friday night for two workers who went missing after a platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.
More than half of the workers on the platform were contracted through a Louisiana company called Grand Isle Shipyard, headquartered in Galliano. Fourteen of the 22 workers involved in the explosion were either employees or subcontractors of the Louisiana company.
Half of the 22 workers on the platform had to be medevaced out for treatment. Five of those injured were working for the Galliano-based oil field contractor Grand Isle Shipyard, or GIS.
Four victims were taken to the Baton Rouge General Hospital Burn Unit in critical condition.
“If they would have took all the steps they needed to take, they should have been able to do it safely without any problems,” said Andrew Pierce, a Shell waterflood operator.
Galliano is a small town with big ties to the oil industry. Industry peers dining at a nearby restaurant weighed in on the explosion.
C.J. Guidry, who is retired from the industry, said, “The oil companies want to go as fast as they can to try to save as much money as they can, and that’s what happens, the loss of life.”
In a statement, Mark Pregeant, the president of GIS, said, “Our primary objective at this juncture is to provide the highest level of care to our employees that were involved in this incident.”
Pregeant said his company was contracted for maintenance services through Black Elk Energy, which runs the platform. He wouldn’t go on camera, nor would he say whether the two workers still missing are GIS employees.
Some of the workers involved were staying in a Galliano bunkhouse that GIS operates.
Meanwhile, some who work in the oil industry believe the incident shouldn’t have happened.
“A step might’ve gotten missed or forgotten,” said Peirce.
“At the end of the day, it [doesn't] matter how well we plan our days and work safe,” said Donald Caulder, an oil industry captain. “Somewhere in the background there is always an incident that’s going to happen.”
The identities of those who were on the platform remains unknown. GIS said it is still notifying family members.
Those in the community said they’re praying for the best.
“We’ll just keep them in our prayers and especially for the two that are missing,” said Atticia Lacoste, a Lafourche Parish resident. “Hopefully they’re found soon and for those that have been injured, we bid them that they get well as fast as possible.”
GIS has launched an internal investigation into what sparked the explosion. It will release the findings once the investigation is complete.