Workers rescued from oil platform in Gulf after it catches fire, Coast Guard says

Fire on Gulf platform

NEW ORLEANS – Four oil platform workers were transported to Terrebonne General Hospital after being rescued from an oil production platform after it caught fire early Thursday morning.

The United States Coast Guard responded to the fire around 2:30 a.m. at a platform about 70 miles south of Caillou Bay.

According to Coast Guard Petty Officer Lora Ratliff, four people were aboard the platform who evacuated into the water and were recovered by the offshore supply vessel Mary Wyatt Milano.

Around 10:30 a.m., at least four workers were seen getting out of helicopter.  Three of the workers walked out of the helicopter and another appeared to be taken into Terrebonne General Medical Center in a wheelchair.

According to the Coast Guard, the workers evacuated the burning Renaissance Offshore platform into the water and were rescued by the crew of the supply vessel Mary Wyatt Milano.

(Click to see video on the history of the company that owns the platform.)

A spokesperson for Terrebonne General could not immediately comment on the condition of the workers, but said they are currently being examined by doctors.

According to the Coast Guard, the workers were first taken to a sister rig in the Gulf, and then flown to Terrebonne General by helicopter.

The Crew of Mary Wyatt Milano and three other offshore supply vessels were called in to fight the fire, which was reported to be extinguished around 6:15 a.m., according to the Coast Guard.

Renaissance Offshore is a relatively new company out of Houston, formed in 2011. They buy up established oil fields and platforms, like this one off Grand Isle.

Platform A is connected to 10 wells and that’s where the fire occurred. The company has also shut in seven wells connected to the Platform B that’s right next to Platform A in the offshore area called Ship Shoal Block Number 266. It's in only 180 feet of water and the platforms have been producing oil there since 1968.

Platform A was still producing about 16,000 barrels of oil per month, but they had some problems there last year. The annual inspection by the federal offshore safety agency found eight mechanical or safety components on the platform that had to be shut-in because of compliance issues.

It's important to point out that Renaissance Offshore bought 10 oil fields from Black Elk Energy in 2013 and 2014 after a major explosion killed three workers on a Black Elk platform and basically forced that company to stop operating in the Gulf. The platform that caught fire Thursday was purchased from Union Oil Co. of California, not Black Elk. 

WWL-TV received this statement from Oliver Marsh, a spokesman for Renaissance Offshore:

"Initial efforts were made by the crew to extinguish the fire, however the decision was made to discontinue those efforts and abandon the platform due to heavy smoke.  All four crew members onboard safely evacuated from the platform aboard a life raft and were recovered by a field vessel that had been dispatched to the location.  The crew was safely evacuated to a nearby facility and will be transferred onshore for a full evaluation.  The fire was completely extinguished at approximately 5:50 a.m." 

The cause of the incident is under investigation. 

© 2017 WWL-TV


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