From Dave Alsup
Natural gas has stopped flowing from a damaged oil well off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico, the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said Thursday.
The fire aboard a drilling rig located in 154 feet of water 60 miles southwest of Grand Isle, Louisiana, is also nearly out, the agency said. What remains is a small flame "fueled by residual gas at the top of the well," it said.
No one was injured in the intense fire, which broke out Tuesday. The accident happened when workers aboard the rig hit an unexpected pocket of gas while preparing the well for production. Forty-four workers were evacuated from the rig without injury, officials said.
While the rig remained standing, parts of the structure above water had collapsed as a result of the intense heat, officials said.
The BSEE said Wednesday that the only contamination so far had been a light sheen on the ocean that appeared to dissipate quickly. No oil was being released, the BSEE said. The rig's owner, Hercules Offshore, said Wednesday that it had brought in an environmental expert to keep an eye on wind and ocean conditions to track any possible contamination.
The well was stopped up naturally by sediment and sand that flowed into it, the BSEE said. It was not immediately clear what steps would now be taken to secure the well.
Hercules Offshore had said Wednesday it was preparing to bring in another of its drilling rigs to prepare a relief well, if necessary.
In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig was operating about 130 miles southeast of New Orleans when it exploded after a well blowout, killing 11 workers and ultimately spewing 210 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico before it was capped months later.
CNN's Dave Alsup and Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this report.
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