Thursday, May 06, 2010

recollections from rig survivors


Mark Levin full audio interview with Trans-Ocean Horizon survivor.

PeakOilPetroleumandPreciousMetals | Minutes before the Deepwater Horizon exploded in fire, workers on the deck heard a thump, then a hissing sound. Gas alarms sounded and the rig shook.

Seawater and mud containing gas from the well spewed up through the crown of the derrick and rained down on the drilling floor; fumes reportedly moved into the "safe zones" where the electric generators are located. The generators raced out of control as they sucked gas into the air intakes.

When the electric power surged, light bulbs exploded, computers and other electric systems were destroyed, leaving the rig in darkness except for the light from fires and explosions that ripped apart walls, according to accounts derived from interviews with attorneys representing survivors, missing rig workers and their families, as well as experts in the field of offshore drilling operations.

Before the blowout, the rig's crew had been replacing heavy and valuable drilling mud with lighter salt sea­water in the top section of the pipe, known as the riser -- the purpose being to extract the mud so they could remove the riser, several sources said. While doing so, they had to secure the wellhead to keep oil and gas from blowing out.

But blow out it did.

Kevin Eugene, a steward on the rig, said he was in his bunk watching TV at about 10 p.m. when a "big old loud boom" and an alarm went off "almost simultaneously.

The lights went out. The platform began shaking.

I thought the place was falling in the ocean, that the whole rig was collapsing," said the father of four from Slidell, La.

Ceiling tiles, dust and debris rained down from overhead. Clad only in his pajama pants and undershirt, he scrambled down a hallway toward an exit to a stairwell that would lead to a lifeboat up on deck. He heard more explosions, but can't remember how many.

When he got onto the deck, he felt a blast of heat and saw flames about 200 yards away.

I mean it was the hugest, biggest fire I've ever seen," Eugene said. "It was just a big ol' ball of fire up there on the derrick. The whole derrick was on fire. The fire was shooting from out the well over there that the derrick was connected to and you could hear the gas gushing out."

The deck was covered with oily mud.