NEW ORLEANS — An out-of-control natural gas well burned Wednesday off Louisiana hours after it ignited following a blowout, though authorities said there was no sign of a slick on the surface of the water.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement says no sheens were spotted near the well during flyovers Wednesday morning. The lack of sheen indicates the fire indicates the gas is burning off with no sign that oil or other hydrocarbons are being released into the water. Federal authorities also saw damage to the drilling rig from the air.
The fire broke out late Tuesday following a blowout in the morning, authorities said. Forty-four workers had evacuated the drilling rig, and no injuries were reported.
Officials stressed that the blowout wouldn’t be nearly as damaging as the 2010 BP oil spill. That disaster included an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling that killed 11 workers and the release of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
The federal authorities said in a news release that well owner Walter Oil & Gas was preparing to move equipment to the area in case it needs to drill a relief well. The owner of the blown rig, Hercules Offshore Inc., said the relief well was among options being considered.
Two firefighting vessels had to be moved away to a safe distance from the fire, according to the federal news release. A third was being brought to the area.
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