By JANET McCONNAUGHEY and KEVIN McGILL
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - An official with the company that owns a Gulf of Mexico drilling rig that caught fire after a natural gas blowout says the rig appears stable now that the fire is out.
He also says there was no sign of an oil sheen on the water during a Thursday morning fly-over.
Jim Noe of Hercules Offshore Inc., says the well became plugged with sand and sediment, essentially snuffing itself out, late Wednesday. Federal officials confirmed the gas flow had stopped Thursday morning. The fire was reported out hours later.
Now officials are concentrating on efforts to permanently plug the well and find out why it blew wild. The blowout occurred Tuesday at a well about 55 miles off the Louisiana coast at a well operated by Walter Oil & Gas.