The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

July 30, 2013

Federal agency to probe blown well

ON THE GULF OF MEXICO — Scientists from several universities are working to learn whether a gas well that blew wild last week off the Louisiana coast has polluted the Gulf of Mexico.

Joseph Montoya, a Georgia Tech biology professor, was leading a research project on a vessel near the site of the 2010 BP oil spill when the gas well, owned by Houston-based Walter Oil & Gas Corp., suffered a blowout on July 23 and later caught fire. All 44 people aboard the Hercules 265 rig working at the site in 154 feet of water were evacuated safely. The rig is owned by Hercules Offshore Inc., also based in Houston.

The well spewed gas and small amounts of oil that produced occasional light sheens on the Gulf surface. Late Wednesday, the well choked itself off. Authorities believe sand and sediments blocked the flow of gas and the fire that damaged the rig burned itself out.

The federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said Monday that its Gulf of Mexico Regional Director, Lars Herbst, was organizing a panel investigation to determine the cause of the accident.

“The panel will be led by a BSEE Gulf of Mexico Region engineer and membership includes BSEE investigators and engineers from both the Gulf Region and Headquarters,” the agency said in a news release. BSEE will also work with the coast guard to find the cause of the blowout, determine whether any safety violations were involved and make recommendations to prevent future blowouts.

Meanwhile, Montoya and the team of academics hoped to find any hints of environmental damage.

“We organized a rapid-response cruise to get some of our scientists out here,” Montoya said Saturday while near the Hercules rig.

A 10-member crew used buckets, hoses and canisters to collect water samples to measure levels of methane gas, radon gas, bacterial abundance and activity, among other things. The Coast Guard wouldn’t let their boat closer than 5 miles to the rig.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World
  • Organizers confident of safe race

    BOSTON — The arrest of a man with a rice cooker in his backpack near the Boston Marathon finish line led police to step up patrols Wednesday, while organizers sought to assure the city and runners of a safe race next week....

    April 17, 2014

  • Ukraine bares teeth against eastern uprising

    KRAMATORSK, Ukraine — In the first Ukrainian military action against a pro-Russian uprising in the east, government forces repelled an attack Tuesday by about 30 gunmen at an airport, beginning what the president called an “anti-terrorist ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Supremacist faces murder charges

    OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The white supremacist charged in shootings that left three people dead at two Jewish community sites in suburban Kansas City made his first court appearance Tuesday....

    April 16, 2014

  • Iran cuts nuclear weapons ability

    VIENNA — The United Nations will release a report this week certifying that Iran’s ability to make a nuclear bomb has been greatly reduced because it has diluted half of its material that can be turned most quickly into weapons-grade ...

    April 16, 2014

  • People with old Social Security debts get reprieve

    WASHINGTON — People with old Social Security debts are getting a reprieve — for now....

    April 16, 2014

  • Solemn tributes mark anniversary

    BOSTON — Survivors, first responders and family members of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing marked the anniversary Tuesday with tributes that combined sorrow over the loss of innocent victims with pride over the city’s ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Questions linger year after bombs

    BOSTON — A surveillance video shows a man prosecutors say is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev placing a bomb near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, just yards from where an 8-year-old boy was killed when it exploded....

    April 15, 2014

  • Feds abruptly end roundup

    Federal land managers abruptly ended the roundup of cattle on public land in southern Nevada owned by a rancher who has refused to recognize their authority, citing a “serious concern” for the safety of employees and the public....

    April 13, 2014

  • Calif. crash probe includes limiting bus fires

    ORLAND, Calif. — A new twist was added to the investigation of a crash involving a tour bus and FedEx tractor-trailer that killed 10 people when a couple said the big rig already was on fire when it careened across a median and sideswiped ...

    April 13, 2014

  • Disappointment, forgiveness mix in La.

    MONROE, La. — To Louisiana voters accustomed to tawdry scandals involving elected officials, disappointment with an eye toward forgiveness is the prevailing sentiment about their new congressman, caught on video embracing an aide married ...

    April 13, 2014