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Deepwater Horizon Update

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted April 22, 2010

UPDATED: 4.22.10 at 2:45 p.m. EDT

The U.S. Coast Guard reports that the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig sunk beneath the surface of the water this morning, but the fire was continuing. Meanwhile, the search and rescue mission for the missing 11 workers is still underway.

BP, which was leasing the drilling rig at the time of the fire, told reporters yesterday that seven oil-spill response vessels had been sent to the scene in case conditions worsened.

The Coast Guard, Minerals U.S. Management Service, and BP will determine the cause of the incident, according to a published report in the Houston Chronicle.

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The U.S. Coast Guard reports today that two cutters remained on the scene of the Deepwater Horizon fire last night to conduct active search and rescue operations. At last report, of the 126 crewmembers onboard the MODU (Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit), 11 are still missing, 17 were injured, three critically, and 98 workers have been reunited with family members on shore. At first light this morning, the Coast Guard planned to have two aircraft searching the area for the missing workers. About 1,940 square miles have been searched.

Meanwhile, fireboats are continuing to flood the flames with water. Numerous news reports say the fire is being fed by sweet crude oil at a rate of 13,000 barrels an hour. Adrian Rose, a vice president from Transocean Ltd, the company that owns the drilling rig, told reporters that workers were preparing an 18,000-foot-deep well for production when the fire began.

Rose said the well completion efforts were proceeding as planned, "with appropriate testing completed, with no indication of any problems...We don't know what caused the incident. Our efforts have firstly concentrated on caring for the people, and secondly securing the rig." (Times-Picayune)

API expressed its concern about the rig accident and the workers yesterday in a statement. It also reiterated the oil and natural gas industry's commitment to offshore safety:

"The U.S. offshore oil and natural gas industry considers safety its top priority. The industry is committed to a goal of zero fatalities, zero injuries and zero incidents, and every incident is both one too many...The industry follows and constantly improves best practices for safe offshore operations and works closely with the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Minerals Management Service to help ensure a strong focus on safety. API has produced more than 40 standards related to drilling equipment and offshore operations, all contributing to a safer offshore working environment."

Transocean's Rose said yesterday an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) will be sent to the seafloor to cut off the flow of oil to the fire. More information about ROVs and deepwater wells is available here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.