What is an oil or gas platform?
An oil or gas platform, also commonly called an offshore platform or oil rig, is a large structure in a large body of water, usually the ocean, with the facilities to drill wells, extract and process oil or gas and temporarily store it for transport to refineries on land. The platform may be fixed to the ocean floor, attached to or comprise an artificial island, or may be floating and movable.
Large oil and gas platforms will provide accommodations for crew, which live and work on the platform for set periods of time. Workers generally get to and from the platforms by boat or helicopter.
What is the danger surrounding an oil or gas platform?
Offshore oil and gas platforms are complex structures with heavy machinery and complex operating processes. These platforms are located in an often volatile environment, subject to the whims of the weather, marine life and the elements. The U.S. Minerals Management Service reported 69 offshore deaths, 1,349 injuries, and 858 fires and explosions on offshore rigs in the Gulf of Mexico from 2001 to 2010.
Perhaps the best known oil platform tragedy is a recent one. On April 20, 2010, a massive offshore oil rig known as the Deepwater Horizon exploded and caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico, about 50 miles from Louisiana's coastal wetlands. The Deepwater Horizon was one of 14 offshore oil rigs owned and operated by Transocean in the Gulf of Mexico. The rig was under lease to oil giant BP for exploratory drilling when the explosion occurred. Eleven workers were killed.
Firefighters and the U.S. Coast Guard fought for two days to contain the fire, but the rig sank on April 22, releasing nearly a million gallons of diesel fuel into the Gulf waters and creating a nearly unstoppable leak of crude. It took four months to seal the well and stop the flow of oil. This eventually became the biggest oil disaster the U.S. has ever seen.
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