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Transocean rig still burning, listing badly

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Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon semi-submersible drilling rig is listing 70 degrees and in danger of toppling 12 hours after an explosion that injured seven and left 11 people still missing.

Aleya Begum & Mark Hillier 21 April 2010 07:27 GMT

Local reports had said the 11 missing had been located but the Coast Guard told UpstreamOnline that the search operations are still underway with a pair of Coast Guard cutters.

A Coast Guard representative said the “fire is still raging” on the rig despite attempts from four fire boats to extinguish the blaze.

The representative added that the rig was gushing fuel into the sea.

An initial report from the US Coast Guard said that all 126 workers had “gotten off the rig”, which is working for BP on the Macondo prospect in the US Gulf, but seven were critically injured.

“Three (of the injured) were met by ambulance at Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans, two were medevaced to West Jefferson hospital in New Orleans by air ambulance and two were flown to Mobile Trauma Centre in Mobile,” said the Coast Guard in a statement.

“There are approximately 11 to 12 people who remain missing.”

A Transocean spokesperson said “a substantial majority of workers” have been evacuated from the rig, adding “a small number are still unaccounted for”.

“As far as we know there have been no fatalities, but this could change,” Greg Panagos said.

A BP spokesperson said:”All of BP’s on-board personnel are safe and have been accounted for”.

The US Coast Guard District Eight command centre first received reports of the incident around 2200 hours local time yesterday.

By 04.20 local time this morning, a Coastguard spokesperson confirmed the fire had not yet been extinguished.

He said the cause of the blaze is not yet known, but an investigation will be carried out.

“Any guesses on the cause of the fire now would be pure speculation,” Panagos said, adding that Transocean’s focus at this stage was the safety of its crew.

Coast Guard helicopters, planes and cutters are still at the scene, about 84 kilometres south-east of Venice, Louisiana. The Macondo prospect is in the north Mississippi Canyon area.

Deepwater Horizon was built in 2001 by Hyundai Heavy Industries at the shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea.

It is a Reading & Bates Falcon RBS-8D dynamically positioned design with accommodations for up to 130 people.

Deepwater Horizon can operate in waters up to 8000 feet and can drill to 30,000 feet.

The current dayrate on the rig is believed to be around $500,000.

Deepwater Horizon cost an estimated $350 million when delivered but replacement costs for a similar unit today could approach double that amount.

Published: 21 April 2010 07:27 GMT  | Last updated: 21 April 2010 16:25 GMT

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