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November 16, 2012

Gulf Coast Oil Rig Explosion Kills Two

Posted in: BP oil disaster

A day after a record $4.5 billion criminal settlement in the BP oil disaster, another Gulf Coast oil rig exploded.

An oil rig explosion off the coast of Louisiana sent four people to hospital Friday and two others were believed to be missing, Coast Guard officials said.

Coast Guard spokesman Drake Foret said the fire was out in the meantime. Four people were taken to West Jefferson Medical Center near New Orleans and Coast Guard aircraft and boats were searching for two missing people.

The rig, a production platform owned by Black Elk Energy, is about 25 miles southeast of Grand Isle, La.

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.

According to NBC News two people died in the incident.

So far, everyone is saying that no oil has spilled at the site, and the fire has been put out. Of course, early reports of the Deepwater Horizon rig assured no spillage, either. In this case, the platform was actually not producing oil at the time of the fire, so while environmental inspectors should check the scene, I’d assume a better outcome than Deepwater Horizon.

Still, this is a good time to point out that, over two years after the BP oil disaster, offshore rigs have proliferated in the Gulf, part of the US strategy of becoming a petro-state. “Drill baby drill” may have been a silly slogan, but substantively it worked, leading to an explosion of new oil and gas exploration, thanks in part to new technologies like fracking but mainly to a desire to extract as many fossil fuels from the US as possible. The US is on track to become the Saudi Arabia of oil, rather than wind or solar. And with the new exploration, and particularly the striving to find every last drop of petroleum, comes new risk. And that along with the pressure to produce while also keeping drilling costs low can easily lead to disaster.

You don’t see any stories about a solar energy spill.


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