Leak from a natural gas well has been blocked and the fire on the rig is going out in the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. authorities said Thursday.
The leaking natural gas well 88 km offshore Louisiana, has bridged over and the gas flow stopped, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the U.S. Coast Guard confirmed Thursday morning.
Bridging is a well condition where small pieces of sediment and sand flow into the well path and restrict and ultimately stop the flow, BSEE said in a press release on its official website.
The fire on the operating platform has decreased to a small flame fueled by residual gas at the top of the well, BSEE said.
Both BSEE and Coast Guard have conducted overflights to visually confirm. BSEE and Coast Guard will continue overseeing response efforts until the event has come to a complete and safe resolution which includes securing the well.
The operator of the rig Walter Oil & Gas Corp. has reportedly begun preparations to move a jack-up rig to the location to potentially drill a relief well.
The gas blowout occurred Tuesday morning on a shallow-water well in 47 meters of water as the crew were completing work on a sidetrack well to prepare that well for new production. All of the 44 workers were safely evacuated.
Hours later the rig, owned by Houston-based Hercules Offshore, caught on fire, causing major damage to the rig structure. The beams supporting the derrick and rig floor collapsed Wednesday morning though no one was injured.
It's still undetermined what caused the gas blowout and the subsequent fire. Authorities said there is no oil spill and that the magnitude of this accident cannot parallel the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
In 2010, BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off Louisiana coast, leading to a blowout that lasted for almost three months and spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf, making it the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry.