Hilcorp’s Baker platform catches fire in Cook Inlet

1:45 p.m. Friday update: 

A 2 mile maritime safety zone remains in effect around the Baker platform Friday, though a morning fly-over of the platform showed the fire to be fully contained, according to a media release.

A unified command group of the United State Coast Guard, Hilcorp Alaska, LLC., and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, is working to determine whether the platform is safe enough for investigators to board.

Responders from the Nikiski Fire Department will use heat sensing equipment to ensure there are no remaining hotspots before an on-scene investigation can be launched, according to the release. 

“While the exact cause of the fire has not be determined, personnel aboard the platform confirmed it began in the living quarters,” according to the release. 

The Nikiski Fire Department, ADEC, Coast Guard, CISPRI and Offshore Marine Services have joined Hilcorp in fighting the fire, observing its affects and investigating the causes. 

Metson Offshore, Inc. Chief Operating Officer Thanasi Randopoulos said the Metson-owned and operated Endeavor were the first to respond to the fire, along with other CISPRI resources — they have since ceased finished firefighting operations. 

“It’s done,” Randopoulos said. “Now Hilcorp’s doing an investigation.”

5:30 p.m. update: 

As state and private organizations work to set up a unified command, several agencies report that the fire on the Baker platform has been contained.

Firefighters on the four vessels currently responding to the fire continue to apply water to the platform, according to an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation 12:30 p.m. situation report.

The Baker platform produces about 5 mcf, or 5,000 cubic feet per day, of natural gas, said Lori Nelson, spokeswoman for Hilcorp.

The fire was largely contained to the living quarters on the northern end of the platform — with firefighters on ships with the Cook Inlet Spill Prevention & Response Inc., or CISPRI, and the Ocean Marine Services Inc., or OSMI, working to keep the blaze from spreading.

The living quarters were extensively damaged.

“Nothing could be saved,” said Commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commision, Cathy Foerster.

A video shot by members of the Nikiski Fire Department at about 9 a.m. shows the OSMI supply vessel Discovery shooting about 4,000 gallons of water per minute onto the platform as black smoke billows into the air.

Hilcorp had one well in production on the platform, which the company shut-in remotely when the fire broke out, Foerster said.

The shut-in procedure involved remotely triggering the closure of a subsurface safety valve on the well, she said.

In order to resume operation on that well, Hilcorp will have to get the valve and well inspected and approved by the conservation commission.

“It was the prudent thing to do,” Foerster said.

The fire itself was not trigger by oil and gas related activity, she said.

“This was basically a house fire that happened on a platform,” she said. “It’s the kind of thing that could happen anywhere. It was just in the living quarters. Hilcorp is not out there doing things that are catching on fire.”

Foerster said Hilcorp followed all of the proper procedures when the company received word of the fire.

“Nobody was injured or killed. This was a happy ending,” Foerster said.

The platform was also connected to a pipeline which transported natural gas to shore, it was secured as well, Foerster said.

John Sims at Enstar said the company is a customer of Hilcorp, but the disruption is causing them no supply problems. 

A unified command center between the Coast Guard, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and Alaska Hilcorp, LLC has been established in Nikiski. 

According to a release from the unified command, no wildfire has been impacted by the fire and no spills into the Cook Inlet have been observed. 

The platform was carrying about 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel and another 10,000 of other liquids, said Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class shawn Eggert, public affairs officer. 

12:30 p.m. update

The Coast Guard and the state Division of Oil and Gas are reporting that the fire on Hilcorp’s Baker platform is under control.

“Last I heard, the fire was still being fought, but it is basically smoldering at this point,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert, a public affairs officer.

Eggert said there are no reports of pollution at this time.

11:35 a.m. update

A gas drilling platform caught fire near Nikiski at 7:30 a.m. Thursday.  

The smoke plume from Hilcorp’s Baker platform is visible for several miles as firefighting vessels try to contain the blaze.

The fire broke out in the crew quarters at about 7:30 a.m., said Lori Nelson, spokeswoman for Hilcorp. While the exact cause has yet to be determined, the fire has hit no “process areas,” yet, she said.

The four crew members on board the platform were evacuated by a Hilcorp helicopter by 8 a.m., Nelson said.

The fire was reported to the Coast Guard at about 8:30 a.m., and several vessels are still trying to contain it, said Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert, public affairs officer. 

While Nikiski Fire Department and the Cook Inlet Spill Prevention & Response Inc., responded to the fire, both deferred questions to the Baker platform operator, Hilcorp.

Bud Sexton, public information officer for the Nikiski Fire Department, said that none of the personnel who had been evacuated from the platform were injured. 

Production on the platform was stopped so there are no additional fuels being added to the fire, though about 20,000 gallons of product are stored on the platform, Eggert said. 

“We don’t know if all of that is flammable,” he said. 

Nelson said firefighting vessels and personnel from CISPRI were working to contain the fire. 

The Ocean Marine Services Inc., or OMSI, vessel Discovery is on scene and the CISPRI vessel Endeavor is on its way, Nelson said. 

The Coast Guard and Hilcorp are headed to Nikiski to set up an incident command center, Eggert said. The Coast Guard has established a 2 mile safety zone around the platform and is flying an HC-130 Hercules crew crew and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew to the scene. The Coast Guard cutter Mustang has also been dispatched from Seward, though none of the Coast Guard craft have made it to the scene, Eggert said. 

In addition to the 2 mile safety zone, the Coast Guard has also instituted a 5 mile no-fly zone around the platform, according to a media release. 

Once the Coast Guard responds, it will primarily work in an oversight position. 

“Hilcorp is the responsible party, so they’re doing everything they can to put the fire out,” Eggert said. “We’re there to make sure everything is done safely, clean up and investigate the cause.”

This is a breaking news story. More information will be posted as it becomes available.

10:35 a.m. update

A gas drilling platform caught fire near Nikiski Thursday morning. 

The smoke plume from Hilcorp’s Baker platform is visible for several miles as firefighters continue to battle the blaze.

The fire was reported to the Coast Guard at about 8:30 a.m., and several vessels are still trying to contain it, said Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert, public affairs officer. 

Eggert said a helicopter lifted four men off of the platform and he was unaware of any other personnel on board.  

While Nikiski Fire Department and the Cook Inlet Spill Prevention & Response Inc., responded to the fire, both deferred questions to the Baker platform operator, Hilcorp.

Hilcorp public affairs officer, Lori Nelson, was boarding a plane when contacted by the Clarion and said she would have more information after she landed.

Bud Sexton, public information officer for the Nikiski Fire Department, said that none of the personnel who had been evacuated from the platform were injured. 

Production on the platform was stopped so there are no additional fuels being added to the fire, though about 20,000 gallons of product are stored on the platform, Eggert said. 

“We don’t know if all of that is flammable,” he said. 

The Coast Guard and Hilcorp are headed to Nikiski to set up an incident command center, Eggert said. The Coast Guard has established a 2 mile safety zone around the platform and is flying a C130 Hercules crew and an MH60 helicopter crew to the scene. The Coast Guard cutter Mustang has also been dispatched from Seward, though none of the Coast Guard craft have made it to the scene, Eggert said. 

Once the Coast Guard responds, it will primarily work in an oversight position. 

“Hilcorp is the responsible party, so they’re doing everything they can to put the fire out,” Eggert said. “We’re there to make sure everything is done safely, clean up and investigate the cause.”

This is a breaking  news story. More information will be posted as it becomes available.

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