Black Elk Energy last Sunday (Nov. 18) expanded its efforts to locate the last worker missing following an explosion and fire onboard a shallow-water Gulf of Mexico (GOM) production platform.

There were 22 workers onboard the platform, about 17 miles southeast of Grand Isle, LA, in West Delta Block 32, when a worker’s torch caused the explosion and fire on Nov. 16. The platform had been shut down since August and was undergoing work to bring it back into service, Houston-based Black Elk said.

The body of one missing worker was recovered last weekend. Eleven workers had been evacuated from the rig and nine were sent to area hospitals. As of Monday morning, most of the injured workers had been released.

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search and rescue efforts for the last missing worker on Nov. 17. However, Black Elk said the following day it was stepping up its work.

“Black Elk is expanding and enhancing its efforts to locate a worker who is still missing,” the company said. “[Sunday] morning, we hired a second and third commercial dive boat and initiated a beach search with Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Department. We have also contacted all helicopter companies that fly in the area to help visual search efforts. In addition, tomorrow we will search the impacted area and other locations on the platform with a search and rescue dog.”

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has begun an investigation into the explosion and fire. “BSEE continues working very closely with the United States Coast Guard throughout the response,” said BSEE Director James Watson. “Our thoughts and prayers are with those injured and missing and their families. BSEE is committed to determining the direct and indirect causes of the explosion and will take appropriate enforcement action.”

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