Full Coverage

 Body Found Identified as Black Elk Platform Worker
Story Photo

1 year ago

Body Found Identified as Black Elk Platform Worker

The body found Monday in the Gulf of Mexico is that of the missing worker from the Black Elk Energy platform fire. Jerome Malapago's body was found Monday morning three miles offshore, or 28 miles away from the platform. The Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office says it used dental records provided by the government of the Philippines to identify Malapago's remains.

Story Photo

1 year ago

Worker burned in Gulf oil platform fire dies

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - One of the men critically burned in an offshore oil platform fire has died in a Baton Rouge hospital, the Philippine ambassador said Friday.

Avelino Tajonera, 49, a welder from Dinalupihan, Bataan, died Friday morning, Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. said in a statement posted on the embassy's website.

"The Filipino nation joins his family in grieving over their loss," he said.

Tajonera's wife and three children were able to see him Thursday evening, when they arrived in Baton Rouge; he died early Friday, a few hours later, Cuisia said.

The explosion and fire Nov. 16 also killed Ellroy Corporal, 42, whose body was found in the waters near the platform. The search for Jerome Malagapo, 28, was called off this week.

Cuisia said he was told of Tajonera's death and his family's visit by Randolf Malagapo, executive manager of D&R Resources, which hired him and the other injured Filipinos to work in Louisiana's offshore oil and gas industry.

Three other men remain hospitalized. Their families are in Baton Rouge, Cuisia said. The only one whose name has been released is Wilberto Ilagan, 50, who improved to good condition earlier this week.

All of the men were working for Grand Isle Shipyard Inc., which had a contract with Black Elk Energy to refurbish the platform.

The federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is investigating the fire.

The embassy quoted Consul General Leo Herrera-Lim as saying three Filipino workers who survived the fire were back in Manila after giving statements to federal investigators.

Corporal's body will be returned to the Philippines on Tuesday, Herrera-Lim said.

Story Photo

1 year ago

Filipino worker killed in offshore fire identified

The embassy of the Philippines in Washington has released the identity of a worker killed in a fiery offshore explosion off the coast of Louisiana. In a news release on the embassy website, he was identified as 42-year-old Elroy Corporal. Meanwhile, the embassy said it holds out hope that a Filipino worker missing since Friday's accident will be found alive. Platform owner Black Elk Energy said it planned to take a search-and-rescue dog aboard its fire-damaged offshore platform Monday, trying to find signs of the worker. In addition to the one dead and one missing worker, four Filipino contract workers were being treated in Baton Rouge for serious burns. One of them has been identified as 50-year-old Wilberto Ilagan, who was in fair condition.

Story Photo

1 year ago

Black Elk Energy: "We remain focused on the victims"

Search efforts are ramping up for the remaining missing worker of the oil platform fire Friday morning. Black Elk Energy released a statement Sunday night, saying it has now hired a total of three commercial dive boats and started a beach search with Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's Department.

The company also stated it will use a search and rescue dog in the impacted area and surrounding location. Divers, contracted by Black Elk Energy, found an unidentified body in the water near the rig Saturday evening. The company confirmed it is one of the missing workers from the platform, however their identity has not been released yet. The remains were taken to the Jefferson Parish Coroner's Office. The identity of the remaining missing worker is also being withheld.

Black Elk said in a statement on its website, "We remain focused on the victims and their families, including those injured in the incident. An official investigation has begun to examine the facts surrounding this incident, we continue to cooperate with authorities."

Story Photo

1 year ago

Company Expands Search for Missing Worker

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The owner of an oil platform that caught fire after an explosion in the Gulf of Mexico last week said Sunday that it has expanded its search for a missing worker, and doctors said one of four men burned in the blaze is improving and is now in fair condition.

Two remained in critical condition and one in serious condition, doctors said.

Three dive boats are now working around the burned platform and Plaquemines Parish sheriff's deputies are checking beaches, Black Elk Energy of Houston said in a statement emailed Sunday evening.

It said all helicopter companies flying in the area have been asked to keep an eye out, and a search-and-rescue dog will be brought to the platform Monday.

The body of a second missing worker was found Saturday and turned over to the Jefferson Parish coroner, added the company, which said it is cooperating with investigators.

"We remain focused on the victims and their families, including those injured," the statement said.

At Baton Rouge General Medical Center's burn unit, Wilberto Ilagan, 50, of the Philippines, told Dr. Jeffrey Littleton that he wanted to send a message, according to a news release issued Sunday.

"To my relatives, to my family, and to my country, I am alive and in good health," Ilagan said. "I am burned, but my heart and lungs are healthy."

According to The Advocate (http://bit.ly/ZT9WLy ), Littleton said Sunday that the other men's names are being withheld because they have not given their consent to release them.

The Philippine Embassy in Washington has said all the workers are from the Philippines.

The Coast Guard has suspended its own search after checking 1,400 square miles near the oil platform, located about 20 miles southeast of Grand Isle, La.

John Hoffman, the president and CEO of Black Elk Energy, said in an earlier statement that the body was found near where the explosion occurred. The dead, missing and wounded workers were employees of oilfield contractor Grand Isle Shipyard, he said.

GIS CEO Mark Pregeant released a statement that the company has notified the families of those involved but was not releasing their names, WWL-TV in New Orleans reported.

Authorities have said the blaze erupted Friday morning while workers were using a torch to cut an oil line on the platform.

Pregeant's statement, however, said the cause of the fire and explosion is unknown and that "initial reports that a welding torch was being used at the time of the incident or that an incorrect line was cut are completely inaccurate."

A man who answered the phone at the company's Galliano, La., office on Sunday said the company had no comment.

Separate from the explosion, Grand Isle Shipyard is facing a lawsuit by a group of former workers from the Philippines who claim they were confined to cramped living quarters and forced to work long hours for substandard pay. The lawsuit was filed in late 2011 in a Louisiana federal court and is pending. Lawyers for the company have said the workers' claims are false and should be dismissed.

The workers recently obtained conditional class certification for allegations that Grand Isle Shipyard didn't pay them properly for overtime and may have violated other fair-labor standards, said attorney Joseph C. Peiffer. He said a notice will go out soon to let other workers know they might be able to join the lawsuit.

He said he was not representing the injured workers, but didn't rule out the possibility that he might do so.

Meanwhile, Black Elk said no oil was leaking from the charred platform, which hadn't been operating since August.

Black Elk Energy is an independent oil and gas company. The company's website says it holds interests in properties in Texas and Louisiana waters, including 854 wells on 155 platforms.

1 year ago

Black Elk Vows to Continue Looking for Lost Rig Worker

The company that owns an oil platform that caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico has vowed to continue searching for a second missing worker after a body was recovered in the waters near the site.

The remains of the unidentified person were found Saturday night by divers hired by Houston-based Black Elk Energy, Coast Guard spokesman Carlos Vega said. Vega said the Coast Guard would be turning over the remains to local authorities. The Coast Guard has suspended its own search.

John Hoffman, the president and CEO of Black Elk Energy, has said the body is apparently one of two crew members missing since an explosion and fire on the oil platform Friday morning. Hoffman said the body was found by a contract dive vessel.

He wrote in an email Sunday morning that a second dive vessel has been brought in to speed up the search for the second missing worker.

"The workers impacted by this accident continue to be our primary focus," Hoffman wrote.

Hoffman said the body was found close to the leg of the platform, near where the explosion occurred, in about 30 feet of water. He said the missing men were employees of oilfield contractor Grand Isle Shipyard.

GIS CEO Mark Pregeant released a statement that the company has notified the family of those involved but was declining to release their names, according to WWL-TV in New Orleans.

Early Sunday, the Philippine Embassy in Washington said the worker whose body was recovered was Filipino, as are the worker who remains missing and four who have been hospitalized. The embassy declined to release names and expressed its condolences to the family of the dead worker.

The Coast Guard had suspended its own search earlier Saturday after 32 hours spent covering 1,400 square miles near the oil platform, located about 20 miles southeast of Grand Isle, La.

"We saw no signs of life. We have suspended the search... pending further development," Vega said.

Authorities have said the blaze erupted Friday morning while workers were using a torch to cut an oil line on the platform.

Pregeant's statement, however, said the cause of the fire and explosion is unknown and that "initial reports that a welding torch was being used at the time of the incident or that an incorrect line was cut are completely inaccurate."

After Friday's blaze, 11 people were taken by helicopter to area hospitals or for treatment on shore by emergency medical workers.

Grand Isle Shipyard employed 14 of the 22 workers on the platform at the time of the explosion, WWL-TV reported. A man who answered the phone at the company's Galliano, La., office on Saturday said no one was available to comment.

Separate from the explosion, Grand Isle Shipyard is facing a lawsuit by a group of former workers from the Philippines who claim they were confined to cramped living quarters and forced to work long hours for substandard pay. The lawsuit was filed in late 2011 in a Louisiana federal court and is pending. Lawyers for the company have said the workers' claims are false and should be dismissed.

Meanwhile, company officials said no oil was leaking from the charred platform, a relief for Gulf Coast residents still weary two years after the BP oil spill illustrated the risk that offshore drilling poses to the region's ecosystem and economy.

Black Elk released a statement saying that the platform wasn't operating and hadn't been since August.

Black Elk Energy is an independent oil and gas company. The company's website says it holds interests in properties in Texas and Louisiana waters, including 854 wells on 155 platforms.

1 year ago

Name Released of one of the Hospitalized Rig Workers

Doctors say one of four men burned in an oil platform explosion and fire has improved to fair condition. But two remain in critical condition and one in serious condition.

A news release on the Baton Rouge General Medical Center's website says 50-year-old Wilberto Ilagan told Dr. Jeffrey Littleton that he wanted his family and country to know that he's alive - and, though he's burned, his heart and lungs are healthy.

Littleton told a news conference the other men's names are being withheld because their conditions are more serious.

Two workers died at the rig; the body of one has been recovered, while crews continue to search for the other. Neither has been identified.

Authorities have said all the workers are from the Philippines.

Story Photo

1 year ago

UPDATE: Body Found is Missing Worker from Platform Fire

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Divers hired by the owner of an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico that caught fire recovered a body in the waters near the site Saturday evening, according to the U.S. Coast Guard and the rig's owner.

Coast Guard spokesman Carlos Vega said late Saturday that the remains of the unidentified person were found by divers hired by Houston-based Black Elk Energy, who were inspecting the platform. Vega said the Coast Guard would be turning over the remains to local authorities.

John Hoffman, the president and CEO of Black Elk Energy, wrote in an email late Saturday that the body is apparently that of one of two crew members missing since an explosion and fire on the oil platform Friday morning. Hoffman said the body was found by a contract dive vessel at 5:25 p.m. CST.

"Divers will continue to search for the second missing worker," Hoffman wrote. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families."

Hoffman said the body was found close to the leg of the platform, near where the explosion occurred, in about 30 feet of water. He said the missing men were employees of oilfield contractor Grand Isle Shipyard.

"We have notified next of kin of all individuals involved, but in respect for their families and their privacy, we will not be releasing their names," GIS CEO Mark Pregeant said in a statement, according to WWL-TV in New Orleans.

The news came shortly after the Coast Guard suspended a 32-hour-long search for the two missing workers that covered 1,400 square miles (3626 sq. kilometers) near the oil platform, located about 20 miles (40 kilometers) southeast of Grand Isle, La.

"We have saturated the search area several times - the 1400-square-foot area," Vega said. "We saw no signs of life. We have suspended the search... pending further development. If we receive any credible information that there are signs of life, we can resume the search at any time."

Story Photo

1 year ago

US Coast Guard: Divers Found Body Near Platform

The US Coast Guard confirmed to KATC that an unidentified body has been found in the water near the oil platform that caught fire Friday morning. A Coast Guard spokesperson says divers contracted by Black Elk Energy discovered human remains while inspecting the platform structure Saturday evening. The Coast Guard says it's not clear if the body is that of one of the missing workers, and the discovery has nothing to do with the search being called off.

Chief Petty Officer Bobby Nash told The Associated Press that the search was ended at about 5:25 p.m. CST Saturday. Helicopters and a fixed-wing aircraft had been searching a 1,400-square-mile area around the platform by air, while cutters and boat crews searched the sea, over a 32-hour period.

Story Photo

1 year ago

Coast Guard Calls Off Search for Missing Workers After Platform Fire

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The Coast Guard on Saturday evening called off its search for two workers missing after an explosion and fire on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico a day earlier. Four others workers were badly burned in the blaze, which evoked memories of the deadly 2010 Gulf oil spill.

Chief Petty Officer Bobby Nash told The Associated Press that the search was ended at about 5:25 p.m. CST Saturday. Helicopters and a fixed-wing aircraft had been searching a 1,400-square-mile area around the platform by air, while cutters and boat crews searched the sea, over a 32-hour period.

"The search is suspended pending further developments," the Coast Guard said in a news release Saturday night. A Guard spokesman had no additional comment on the decision.

The blaze erupted Friday morning while workers were using a torch to cut an oil line on a platform owned by Houston-based Black Elk Energy about 20 miles (40 kilometers) southeast of Grand Isle, La.

Four workers were severely burned, though Black Elk Energy spokeswoman Leslie Hoffman said their burns were not as extensive as initially feared.

Officials at Baton Rouge General Medical Center said Saturday that two men remained in critical condition, while two men remained in serious condition. The four, being treated in a burn unit, are employees of oilfield contractor Grand Isle Shipyard and are from the Philippines. The hospital said it and Grand Isle Shipyard are trying to reach the men's families in the Philippines.

It's unclear whether the missing men worked for a contractor. Grand Isle Shipyard employed 14 of the 22 workers on the platform at the time of the incident, WWL-TV in New Orleans reported. A man who answered the phone at the company's Galliano, La., office on Saturday said no one was available to comment.

Meanwhile, officials said no oil was leaking from the charred platform, a relief for Gulf Coast residents still weary two years after the BP oil spill illustrated the risk that offshore drilling poses to the region's ecosystem and economy.

Friday's fire sent an ominous black plume of smoke into the air reminiscent of the deadly 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion that transformed the oil industry and life along the U.S. Gulf Coast

James A. Watson, the director of Louisiana's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, said in a statement Saturday that his agency had begun "an investigation into the explosion and fire aboard a Black Elk Energy production platform offshore Louisiana."

"Our thoughts and prayers are with those injured and missing and their families," Watson said. "BSEE is committed to determining the direct and indirect causes of the explosion and will take appropriate enforcement action."

The Deepwater Horizon blaze killed 11 workers and led to an oil spill that took months to bring under control. Friday's fire came a day after BP PLC agreed to plead guilty to a raft of charges in the 2010 spill and pay a record $4.5 billion in penalties.

There were a few important differences between this latest blaze and the one that touched off the worst offshore spill in U.S. history: Friday's fire was put out within hours, while the Deepwater Horizon burned for more than a day, collapsed and sank.

The Black Elk Energy facility is a production platform in shallow water, rather than an exploratory drilling rig like the Deepwater Horizon looking for new oil on the seafloor almost a mile (1.6 kilometers) deep.

The depth of the 2010 well blow-out proved to be a major challenge in bringing the disaster under control.

The Black Elk Energy platform is in 56 feet (17 meters) of water - a depth much easier for engineers to manage if a spill had happened.

A sheen of oil about a half-mile (800 meters) long and 200 yards (180 meters) wide was reported on the Gulf surface, but officials believe it came from residual oil on the platform.

"It's not going to be an uncontrolled discharge from everything we're getting right now," Coast Guard Capt. Ed Cubanski said.

Hoffman, the Black Elk Energy spokeswoman, said Saturday that there were still no signs of any leak or spill at the platform site.

BP's blown-out well spewed millions of gallons (liters) of oil into the sea, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River on the east side of the river delta. The crude fouled beaches, marshes and rich seafood grounds.

After Friday's blaze, 11 people were taken by helicopter to area hospitals or for treatment on shore by emergency medical workers.

The production platform is on the western side of the Mississippi River delta. The Coast Guard said more than 20 people were aboard the platform at the time of the fire.

"The company continues to cooperate closely with all state and federal agencies," company officials said in a news release Saturday. "As reported yesterday, this platform was not in operation and had been shut in since mid-August. According to visual reports from this morning, there is no visible sheen in the vicinity of the platform. "

Cubanski said the platform appeared to be structurally sound. He said only about 28 gallons (106 liters) of oil were in the broken line on the platform.

David Smith, a spokesman for the Interior Department's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement in Washington, said an environmental enforcement team was dispatched from a Gulf Coast base by helicopter soon after the Coast Guard was notified of the emergency. Smith said the team would scan for any evidence of oil spilling and investigate the cause of the explosion.

Black Elk Energy is an independent oil and gas company. The company's website says it holds interests in properties in Texas and Louisiana waters, including 854 wells on 155 platforms.

John Hoffman, Black Elk's president and CEO, said in an email early Saturday morning that he was leaving Houston for Louisiana to assist in the investigation and help the families of the missing and injured workers.

"My entire focus is the families and workers," he wrote. "Nothing else matters at this point."

Story Photo

1 year ago

Oil Platform Explosion


Since last night Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations posted this press release on their website. Click the link to view. http://www.blackelkenergy.com/
"The four workers burns were not as extensive as initially reported," said Leslie Hoffman, a spokeswoman for Black Elk Energy. "Their conditions Saturday were stable but critical," she said.
The Coast Guard is still searching for two missing crew members after a fire erupted on Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 17 miles southeast of Grand Isle, LA.
An aggressive search and rescue is underway for the missing crew members. 22 workers were on the platform at the time of the incident. Nine workers were injured and are being treated at a number of hospitals in New Orleans. 11 workers were safely evacuated. We will have more on this story at 6p.m. and 10p.m

Story Photo

1 year ago

Black Elk Energy Has Other Violations On The Books

Black Elk Energy is a relatively new company, only started back in 2007. After Friday's platform fire their previous track record shows they've had other safety incidents.

The fire is without a doubt the worst incident in the company's young history, but according to accident reports with the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, the first was in 2011. That day, a small fire on another platform started after a battery shorted out and overheated. Fortunately, no one was injured.

This year they have had two mishaps. In August, equipment failure and human error sent two men in a personnel bucket falling 60 feet into the gulf. They were able to swim to a boat and were not seriously hurt. In September, the company paid a fine of more than $300,000 over a maintenance issue. A plug in a well had not been inspected properly and was found to have been leaking gas for more than 100 days.

While the investigation is still ongoing, Black Elk Energy President and CEO John Hoffman offered some indication of what caused Friday's fire.

"It appears that when they were using the torch, the fumes in the line caught fire causing the tanks to explode," he said.

At this time two workers remain missing but they are both employees of the Grande Isle Shipyard. No identities have been released.

Although the fire caused damage to the platform, the US Coast Guard says the it is structurally sound. Black Elk Energy hopes to have it running again soon as they conduct an investigation into what happened.

1 year ago

Acadiana Woman Worried for Loved Ones Offshore

It was a waiting game for many families in Acadiana, wondering if their loved ones offshore were safe. I spoke with Deena Melancon, whose son and brother work for Black Elk Energy. Both were offshore during the explosion.
Melancon says when her son, Bryce Melancon and brother Wiley Hayes are sent offshore, they hop around from platform to platform, so she never knows exactly where they are. Her husband called her this morning to tell her about the explosion. Shortly after, she found out her son was safe, but hadn't heard from her brother. About an hour passed then she got the call she was hoping for: Wiley was safe. It turns out, neither was on the platform that caught fire. Melancon says it's been a whirlwind day filled with a lot of tears. And she empathizes with families still waiting to hear for their loved ones.

"Having a son out there, he's my only son. I know he has to support his family, but I worry. A mom always worries," said Melancon.

Her brother wasn't too far from the explosion and he knows some of the workers onboard. Her son and brother are expected to return home next week.

Story Photo

1 year ago

2 missing, 4 badly burned in Gulf platform fire

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The Coast Guard was searching Friday for two workers missing after a fire erupted on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, sending an ominous black plume of smoke into the air reminiscent of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion that transformed the oil industry and life along the coast. The fire, begun while workers were using a torch to cut an oil line, critically injured at least four workers who had burns over much of their bodies. The images were eerily similar to the massive oil spill that killed 11 workers and took months to bring under control. It came a day after BP agreed to plead guilty to a raft of charges in the 2010 spill and pay a record $4.5 billion in penalties. There were a few important differences with the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 workers and began one of the nation's biggest environmental disasters: Friday's fire was put out within hours, rather than burning for more than a day and causing the rig to collapse and sink. It's a production platform in shallow water, rather than an exploratory drilling rig looking for new oil on the seafloor almost a mile deep. Still, the accident was a vivid reminder of the dangerous business of offshore drilling and the risk it poses to the Gulf of Mexico's ecosystem and shoreline. A sheen of oil about a half-mile long and 200 yards wide was reported on the Gulf surface, but officials believe it came from residual oil on the platform. "It's not going to be an uncontrolled discharge from everything we're getting right now," Coast Guard Capt. Ed Cubanski said. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Bobby Nash said late Friday that monitoring continues to show no oil is coming from the well. Eleven people were taken by helicopter to area hospitals or for treatment on shore by emergency medical workers. Taslin Alfonzo, spokeswoman for West Jefferson Medical Center in suburban New Orleans, said four injured workers arrived in critical condition with second- and third-degree burns over much of their bodies. Two were sent by ambulance to the burn center at Baton Rouge General Medical Center. Two others were to be sent later. A spokeswoman for Terrebonne General Medical Center in Houma said the hospital was treating two workers who were in good condition. Several other workers were taken to Lady of the Sea General Hospital in Cut Off. None was listed in critical condition, according to a spokeswoman, who wouldn't specify how many patients the hospital was treating. The production platform owned by Houston-based Black Elk Energy is about 25 miles southeast of Grand Isle, on the western side of the Mississippi River delta. The Coast Guard said 24 people were aboard the platform at the time of the fire. Cubanski said the platform appeared to be structurally sound. He said only about 28 gallons of oil were in the broken line on the platform. After the April 2010 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon, that rig burned for about 36 hours before collapsing and sinking to the Gulf floor. The depth of the well blow-out - a mile below the Gulf surface - proved to be a major challenge in bringing the disaster under control. The Black Elk platform is in 56 feet of water - a depth much easier for engineers to manage if a spill had happened. A federal official in Washington said a team of environmental enforcement inspectors was flying to the scene. David Smith, a spokesman for the Interior Department's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, said the team was dispatched from a Gulf Coast base by helicopter soon after the Coast Guard was notified of the emergency. Smith said the team would scan for any evidence of oil spilling and investigate the cause of the explosion. "This is yet another reminder that our work on oil drilling safety is not complete," said U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee. Black Elk is an independent oil and gas company headquartered in Houston, Texas. The company's website says it holds interests in properties in Texas and Louisiana waters, including 854 wells on 155 platforms. The company said on its website that "our thoughts and prayers are with those who are impacted." The company said it was still collecting information and would issue a statement later. The spill from BP's Macondo well, about 50 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River on the east side of the river delta, dumped millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf. It fouled beaches, marshes and rich seafood grounds.

1 year ago

Black Elk Energy CEO interview

In an interview with KTRK-TV in Houston, Black Elk Energy President and CEO John Hoffman said it's been a stressful day worrying about what the workers went through in the Gulf of Mexico where a platform exploded this morning. "We still have two missing, so we are searching trying to track them down. Coast Guard is also conducting search patterns. That's my greatest concern at this point," he said.

Hoffman says an early indication of how the fire started points to a worker using a cutting torch while working on a procedure that called for cold cutting a line and putting in a valve. "That line was connected to tanks that had some oil and vapor of course. And apparently one of the workers decided to use a cutting torch. We believe that the cutting torch then ignited the vapors which caused the tanks to explode. Near by boats came and put out the fire.
nearby operators sent their helicopters over to help evacuate the wounded and the other workers and that's where we are right now."

Story Photo

1 year ago

Coast Guard still searching for missing platform crew members

At this hour, the U.S. Coast Guard is still searching for the two missing crew members who were working on the platform that exploded around 9:00 this morning. A spokesperson tells KATC two cutters and two response boats are searching the Gulf of Mexico for the missing men, and the Coast Guard dispatched two planes to the scene.

Black Elk Energy owns the platform and says media can expect a press release sometime this afternoon. The company's website says, "Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are impacted. We have Black Elk personnel on the scene and en route. We are still collecting information at this time. We will release a statement this afternoon when we have more details."

Story Photo

1 year ago

14 platform workers employed by Grand Isle Shipyard

More than half of the workers on the Black Elk Energy platform that caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico this morning are employed by Grand Isle Shipyard, according to a WWL-TV report. Company President Mark Prejeant told the TV station that he can't confirm whether the two missing workers are his employees, but he can confirm that his employees took the bulk of injuries.

The company specializes in pipe and structural fabrication and has fabrication facilities in Abbeville, Galliano, Franklinton, Lafitte, and Mobile, AL. It's corporate office is located in Galliano.

Story Photo

1 year ago

Two Still Missing in Platform Explosion

VENICE, La. (AP) - An explosion and fire ripped through a Gulf oil platform Friday as workers used a cutting torch, sending four people to a hospital with burns and leaving two missing in waters off Louisiana.

Coast Guard Capt. Ed Cubanski told a news conference in New Orleans the well was not producing at the time and no oil was leaking. A small amount of oil spilled from the rig when workers using a torch cut into a 75-foot-long, 3-inch-wide line on the platform. Cubanski said a sheen one-half mile long and 200 yards wide was reported in the area.

"It's not going to be an uncontrolled discharge from everything we're getting right now," Cubanski said.

The fire had since been extinguished, said Coast Guard spokesman Drake Fore. He said Coast Guard aircraft and boats were searching for two missing people. Nobody was believed killed in the fire.

Taslin Alfonzo, spokeswoman for West Jefferson Medical Center in suburban New Orleans, said four injured workers were brought to the hospital in critical condition with second- and third-degree burns over much of their bodies. Three arrived by helicopter at 9:55 a.m. and one by helicopter at 10:10 CST.

Two were sent by ambulance to the Baton Rouge Burn Center. Two others were to be sent later. She could not release identities or any other information.

The production platform owned by Black Elk Energy is about 25 miles southeast of Grand Isle, La. The Coast Guard said 26 people were aboard the platform at the time of the explosion.

The platform is for oil production from an established well, unlike the Deepwater Horizon rig, which was drilling an exploratory well for oil giant BP in mile-deep water when it blew up and triggered a massive oil spill in 2010. That site is well to the east of Friday's explosion.

Cubanski said the platform appeared to be structurally sound. After the April 2010 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon, that rig burned for about 36 hours before suffering structural collapse and sinking to the Gulf floor.

The Black Elk platform is in 56 feet of water. Cubanski said 28 gallons of oil were in the broken line.

The Coast Guard got the call about the fire at 8:42 a.m. CST.

A federal official in Washington said a team of environmental enforcement inspectors was flying to the scene.

David Smith, a spokesman for the Interior Department's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, said the team was dispatched from a Gulf Coast base by helicopter soon after the Coast Guard was notified of the emergency. Smith said the team would scan for any evidence of oil spilling and investigate the cause of the explosion.

Black Elk is an independent oil and gas company headquartered in Houston, Texas.

The company's website says it holds interests in properties in Texas and Louisiana waters, including 854 wells on 155 platforms.

Story Photo

1 year ago

Coast Guard: No Confirmed Fatalities in Platform Explosion

The spokesman for the United States Coast Guard says there are not confirmed fatalities from this morning's platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. The spokeman said in a noon press conference that 26 people were on the platform this morning. Four left the platform before the incident as part of a routine rotation, leaving 22 on the platform at the time of the explosion. Eleven workers were airlifted to various hospitals. Nine others were taken to offshore supply vessels. Two workers are missing. The spokesman says the fire has been put out on the platform. The spokesman added there is an oil sheen a half-mile long in the Gulf.

Story Photo

1 year ago

Plaquemines Parish Reports Two Dead in Platform Explosion

Plaquemines Parish officials say they have learned from Coast Guard officials that two people have died following this morning's platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. However, the Coast Guard's spokesperson still has not verified the reports of deceased workers. The spokesperson for, Black Elk Energy, the company that owns the platform, says he can "neither confirm nor deny anything at this time." Plaquemines Parish officials add Coast Guard crews, clean-up crews, and three commercial vessels are on scene.

Story Photo

1 year ago

Platform family member says they're waiting on info

KATC's Jenise Fernandez has been in touch with a family member of one of the workers on the Black Elk Energy platform, and she tells Jenise that she learned about the fire on the internet. The woman lives in Maryland and says her brother-in-law, who also lives in Maryland, was on the platform when it caught fire. The family is in touch with Black Elk Engery, but the sister-in-law says they're waiting on information.

Story Photo

1 year ago

Deaths in platform fire unconfirmed

Despite other media reporting two deaths in the platform explosion, KATC has not confirmed this. KHOU in Houston initially reported two deaths, but the Black Elk Energy employee the TV station credits with giving them the information will not confirm the statement to KATC. Instead, he's referring us to the company's public relations spokesperson. KHOU credits Kirk Trascher, however when KATC talked to Trascher, he said, "We cannot confirm or deny anything at this time, but we are assembling an incident command team right now." The PR spokesperson he referred us to is not answering any calls at this time.

The U.S. Coast Guard, as of 11:20 a.m., has no reports of deaths. Four people were injured and airlifted to West Jefferson Hospital, and two people are missing, according the Coast Guard. We do not know yet the extent of injuries.

Story Photo

1 year ago

Coast Guard: Gulf rig fire sends 4 to hospitals

Coast Guard officials said an oil rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana, sending four people to hospitals Friday. Two were believed to be missing. Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally, a spokesman for the Coast Guard, did not immediately have information on the conditions of those taken to hospitals. The rig, a production platform owned by Black Elk Energy, is about 25 miles southeast of Grand Isle, La. Lally says two helicopters, an airplane and small boats were sent to the area. He did not know if the fire caused by the explosion had been put out yet. The platform is a production platform, unlike the Deepwater Horizon rig, which was drilling an exploratory well for oil giant BP in mile-deep water well to the east of Friday's reported explosion. A spokesman for Black Elk Energy could not immediately be reached for comment. Black Elk is an independent oil and gas company headquartered in Houston, Texas. The company's website says it holds interests in properties in Texas and Louisiana waters, including 854 wells on 155 platforms.

  • Story Photo
  • Story Photo
  • Story Photo
  • Story Photo
  • Story Photo
  • Story Photo
  • Story Photo
  • Story Photo
  • Story Photo
  • Story Photo
  • Story Photo
  • Story Photo
  • Story Photo
  • Story Photo
  • Story Photo
  • Story Photo
  • Story Photo
  • Story Photo
  • Story Photo
  • Story Photo
  • Story Photo
  • Story Thumbnail
  • Story Thumbnail
  • Story Thumbnail
  • Story Thumbnail
  • Story Thumbnail
  • Story Thumbnail
  • Story Thumbnail
  • Story Thumbnail
  • Story Thumbnail
  • Story Thumbnail
  • Story Thumbnail
  • Story Thumbnail
  • Story Thumbnail
  • Story Thumbnail
  • Story Thumbnail
  • Story Thumbnail
  • Story Thumbnail
  • Story Thumbnail
  • Story Thumbnail
  • Story Thumbnail
  • Story Thumbnail

»Comments

Comments

Most Popular

Top Videos

1 2 3 4