'Two dead' after explosion and fire on Gulf of Mexico oil rig


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The Independent US

Officials in the Gulf of Mexico are investigating an explosion and a fire that broke out aboard an offshore oil platform near Grand Isle, Louisiana.             

At least four people were hospitalized following the accident, according to Coast Guard officials.

A local hospital spokesman later told CNN that all four were in critical condition, adding that doctors were working to stabilize them so that they could be transferred to a specialist burns unit.

The Coast Guard meanwhile said two people were missing, while a CBS News affiliate in Houston reported that two people had been killed in the explosion. The fire was reported to have been extinguished.

Although early details were sketchy, multiple outlets reported that the platform, which is owned by Black Elk Energy, was a shallow water production platform, differing from BP’s Deepwater Horizon deepwater rig which exploded in the Gulf in April 2010 and led to the worst offshore oil spill in US history.

There were no reports of a spill following the incident.

John Hoffman, the chief executive of Black Elk told the Houston Business Journal that the explosion and fire while a construction crew was finishing work on a water skimmer, which is used to separate water from oil.

A Coast Guard official, meanwhile, told a local TV station that 28 people were believed to have been aboard the Black Elk rig. Captain Peter Gautier added that a major environmental disaster was not expected, as the right was not actively producing oil.

The Coast Guard has set up a command center to investigate the incident.

A spokesman for Black Elk Energy could not be reached for comment.

The explosion occurred just a day after BP agreed to pay the biggest criminal penalty in US legal history after reaching a $4.53 bn settlement with US authorities over the Deepwater Horizon incident, which led to the death of 11 workers and spillage of nearly 5 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf.

The company agreed to plead guilt to 14 counts of criminal misconduct to resolve all federal criminal charges stemming from the 2010 incident and claims by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the US market regulator.