Coast Guard searching for 11 missing rig workers

BP PLC on Apr. 22 offered its full support to drilling contractor Transocean Ltd. and its employees after fire caused Transocean's Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible drilling rig to be evacuated, leaving 11 workers missing and 17 others injured.

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Apr. 22
-- BP PLC on Apr. 22 offered its full support to drilling contractor Transocean Ltd. and its employees after fire caused Transocean's Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible drilling rig to be evacuated, leaving 11 workers missing and 17 others injured.

The semi was working 41 miles off Louisiana on Mississippi Canyon Block 252. A US Minerals Management Service weekly deepwater activity report from Apr. 19 showed BP drilling the exploration well in 4,992 ft of water near Rigel gas field.

BP Exploration & Production Inc. operates the license on which Transocean's rig was drilling. The well had reached total depth of more than 18,000 ft, said Adrian Rose, a spokesman for Transocean. BP said it was an oil exploration well with associated gas.

Crewing were running casing and cementing operations when the accident happened, Rose said, confirming that workers were in the process leading up to displacing the riser with seawater and setting a surface plug.

Of the 126 workers on the rig at the time of the explosion and fire, 79 were Transocean employees, 6 were BP employees, and 41 were workers for various contractors such as cement specialists.

The fire continued burning on Apr. 22, and the cause of the explosion was under investigation as a cooperative effort between MMS and USCG. The plan was to use a remotely operated vehicle to “hot stab into the blowout preventer” and stem the source of the fire, although it was unknown when that might happen.

BP Group Chief Executive Tony Hayward said, “Our concern and thoughts are with the rig personnel and their families. We are also very focused on providing every possible assistance in the effort to deal with the consequences of the incident.”

Early Apr. 22, USCG reported it was continuing the search, having completed 17 total sorties by air and cutters that covered 1,940 square miles.

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