Nighttime Satellite Image – Gulf of Mexico, September 26, 2011

As part of our investigation into the report of a fire in the Gulf the night of September 25 (at 7:45 pm local time), we got a few recent low-resolution nighttime images taken by satellites of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP). This one was taken at 8:12 pm on the 25th:

DMSP nighttime satellite image taken at 8:11 pm on September 25, 2011. DMSP image and data processing by NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center. DMSP data collected by the US Air Force Weather Agency.

It shows bright spots scattered throughout this part of the Gulf – no surprise given the number of platforms in the area, since many of the larger ones are lit up like mini-cities:

Detail from 9/25/11 DMSP image above. Louisiana shoreline shown in yellow.

There is a very faint pale spot near the location of the supposed fire; but that might be from the nearby Na Kika platform instead:

Detail from 9/25/11 DMSP image showing location of fire given in NRC report. Two of BP’s large and well lit deepwater platforms, Atlantis and Thunder Horse, are shown for reference. 

Here’s what the Thunder Horse platform looks like at night.  Yep, it is bright:

Thunder Horse platform at night. Image courtesy Oil Rig Photos.
2 replies
  1. Red Hand says:

    One missing, four wounded following fire aboard CNOOC FSO offshore Indonesia

    September 23, 2011

    By Phaedra Friend Troy
    According to reports from local media, a vessel owned by China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) (NYSE:CEO) is on fire in Jakarta Bay offshore Indonesia.

    Jakarta Globe reports that the CNOOC vessel named Lentera Bangsa ignited on Friday morning. Most of the 150 crewmembers are safe, but four people are severely burned and another is missing.
    It is unclear where the fire began, but the remote location of the emergency is proving difficult for responders to extinguish the blaze.
    Lentera Bangsa is a Floating Storage and Offloading vessel built to replace the FSO Widuri on the CNOOC-operated Widuri field in the Java Sea offshore Indonesia.

    Enabling the extension of the field life by 10 years, the Lentera Bangsa FSO began operation on the Widuri field early in 2011. The FSO has a storage capacity of 700,000 barrels of oil a day.

  2. John says:

    Thanks Red Hand – a more recent news account indicated the vessel was actually docked (in port) at the time, and the fire broke out in a cabin. Tragic all the same, and a reminder that FSOs/FPSOs are susceptible to incidents like any other vessel; on an FSO/FPSO loaded with crude oil, the consequences of a fire or other problem could be a whole lot worse.

    We're concerned that FPSOs are now approved for use in the Gulf of Mexico. Petrobras (Brazil's state oil company) is using an FPSO to develop their Cascade-Chinook project in the deepwater Gulf about 180 miles offshore.

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