Body found near site of oil platform fire - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Body found near site of oil platform fire

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Vessels pour water on the platform where an oil rig exploded. (Source: U.S. Coast Guard) Vessels pour water on the platform where an oil rig exploded. (Source: U.S. Coast Guard)
An oil rig off the coast of Louisiana exploded Friday. (Source: KATC) An oil rig off the coast of Louisiana exploded Friday. (Source: KATC)

(RNN) - Divers have recovered a body near the site of an oil platform that caught fire on Friday, according to the Associated Press.

Houston-based Black Elk Energy, which owns the platform, hired the divers after the U.S. Coast Guard ceased their search on Saturday for two workers who went missing after the platform fire off the Louisiana coast, AP reported.

The body was found in about 30 feet of water near where the explosion happened. The name of the deceased has not been released pending notification of the next of kin.

Divers will continue to search for the second missing worker.

The Coast Guard suspended their search around 5:25 p.m. CST Saturday afternoon.

Before calling off the search, Coast Guard officials searched 1,400 square miles by air while cutters and boat crews searched the Gulf. 

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Safety and Environment Enforcement said they have begun an investigation into the explosion and subsequent fire.

"BSEE is committed to determining the direct and indirect causes of the explosion and will take appropriate enforcement action," the organization said in a statement released Saturday.

Officials reported on Friday that the platform fire had been extinguished, and that there was little chance of an oil spill.

Commander Ed Cubanski of Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans said in a Friday noon news conference there had been no confirmed deaths, refuting earlier reports of two who died.

Initially 11 people were taken by helicopter to a local hospital, four of which were severely burned.

There had been 26 workers onboard the platform, but four had left before the fire started around 8:42 a.m.

Cubanski also said there was an oil sheen about 1/2 mile long and 200 meters wide, but Coast Guard are working with the Bureau of Environmental Safety to ensure there is no ecological impact.

The rig appeared to be structurally sound and not a spill risk, he added.

The rig was not producing oil, but maintenance work was being done.

The facility is located in West Delta Block 32 - about 20 miles southeast of Grand Isle, LA - in 56-foot deep water.

Black Elk Energy out of Houston owns the platform. Kirk Trascher, Black Elk asset manager, initially told WAFB the company was assembling "an incident command team."

Black Elk has 854 oil wells on 155 platforms in waters off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana, according to the Chicago Tribune.

According to the Associated Press, it is a production platform, unlike the Deepwater Horizon rig, which was drilling an exploratory well in mile-deep water well to the east of Friday's reported explosion.

The difference between an oil rig and oil platform are technical. An oil rig drills holes into the ground through mobile equipment, so the raw materials can be extracted. The oil platform is the second step, where the raw materials are processed before being sent to shore.

The explosion came one day after BP agreed to pay the largest criminal fine in U.S. history for the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.

BP announced Thursday it would pay $4.5 billion for the 2010 explosion off the Gulf Coast. Eleven workers were killed in the disaster, and two BP employees have been charged with manslaughter.

Deepwater Horizon spilled an estimated 4.9 million barrels – the equivalent of 210 million gallons – and covered an area of several thousand square miles. The estimate of oil spilled each day reached as high as 60,000 barrels.

It was the largest offshore oil spill in the nation's history.

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