Worker in deadly Gulf blast was cleaning equipment

AP News
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Posted: Nov 21, 2014 6:36 PM

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A worker killed in an offshore explosion was cleaning a piece of equipment during routine maintenance at its oil-and-gas platform in the Gulf of Mexico, the company that runs the platform said Friday.

Houston-based Fieldwood Energy LLC said another worker suffered "visible injury" and two others reported ringing in their ears after the explosion, which was reported just before 3 p.m. Thursday. The company said the three injured workers have been released from the hospital.

Fieldwood said the worker who was killed Thursday was cleaning a piece of equipment that separates oil from water liquids when an "isolated pressure event" occurred. The company said the victim and the other worker with visible injuries were employed by Turnkey Cleaning Services, a Louisiana company specializing in cleaning offshore facilities.

Turnkey declined to provide details about the incident and its workers. The Jefferson Parish Coroner's Office identified the victim as Jerrel Hancock, 24, of Abbeville.

The explosion happened on the Echo Platform, about 12 miles offshore near the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Federal regulators were on the platform Friday to investigate, said Chauntra Rideaux, a spokeswoman with the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

Fieldwood said the platform had not been producing oil or gas for over a week. The company added that the incident did not involve a well explosion or blowout but rather a piece of equipment called a heater treater. The company said the incident did not cause a fire on the platform nor any pollution.

"Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the family of the deceased Turnkey Cleaning Services employee," Fieldwood said in a statement.

The explosion occurred about two months after a contractor was killed and two others hurt during maintenance work in September on a Chevron natural gas pipeline, also off the Louisiana coast. The cause remains under investigation.