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Gulf Natural Gas Well Stops Leaking

Updated 1:20 p.m.

The burning, blown out natural gas rig off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico is no longer leaky, according to the feds. On Thursday morning, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said the gas well has "bridged over," meaning that sand and sediment flowed into the well and stanched the flow.


The Hercules 265 rig, which caught fire Tuesday night, continues to burn, but only a "small flame" remains, according to the Bureau. The rig is being fed by residual natural gas that was left over on pipes and other drilling machinery at the top of the well. The fire burned through the derrick and drill floor on the rig to collapse on Wednesday, causing them to collapse.


Firefighting boats dispatched by the U.S. Coast Guard have set up a "water curtain" around the rig, which means the boats are spraying walls of water around the rig. The curtain is not designed to put out the fire, but rather to provide heat protection, the Bureau said.


The well suffered a blowout Tuesday as Walter Oil and Gas was readying a sidetrack well at the site, which is located 55 south of Grand Isle. Forty four workers were evacuated from the rig, and no one was injured. The rig is in 154 ft. of water. The Coast Guard reported a light sheen that was "dissipating quickly" was still visible on Wednesday afternoon.


The cause of the blowout has yet to be determined. As with the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster of 2010, talk about the cause is already centering on the blowout preventer. All drilling rigs are required to be equipped with the device, which activates to cut off the flow of oil or natural gas to prevent the type of failure that occurred. Any blowout would likely mean that device failed in some fashion.

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