Reports have surfaced that an explosion has occurred at an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Two people have died from the fire, eleven are injured and two are currently missing.
The explosion and ensuing fire was reported by KHOU television in Houston, who supplied the video footage of the oil rig spewing smoke above.
The United States Coast Guard has confirmed that an offshore platform is on fire and that they are investigating the incident.
According to parish officials, the rig is not drilling at a deepwater site, as with the Macondo well that blew out in 2010. The blowout in 2010 led to the worse offshore spill in US history and killed 11 workers. Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts told WWL-TV that the platform is a shallow water platform in the Gulf of Mexico.
The platform is in West Cote Blanche Bay, south of New Iberia on the south-central Louisiana coast.
Kirk Trascher, spokesman for Black Elk Energy in Houston said that the four injured workers have been air-lifted to a hospital in Jefferson Parish, La.
Initial reports are that maintenance workers were cutting into a pipe and that oil may have escaped, causing the explosion.
“We cannot confirm or deny anything at this time, but we are assembling an incident command team right now,” Trascher said.
There have currently been no reports of oil spilled in the Gulf and according to the Twitter account of KHOU television, the fire has been successfully extinguished.
Explosion at an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, November 16, 2012.
Update: According to the York Daily Record, there is a sheen of oil about a half-mile long and 200 yards wide on the surface, but officials believe it came from residual oil on the platform. The platform was not actively producing oil.
"It's not going to be an uncontrolled discharge from everything we're getting right now," Coast Guard Capt. Ed Cubanski said.
Coast Guard Capt. Peter Gautier said "It does not appear the incident could lead to a major environmental disaster."
The number of persons injured and airlifted for treatment has now reached 11.