A Texas man remained missing after an explosion and fire on a Lake Pontchartrain oil and gas platform near Kenner, La., injured seven other workers Sunday night, according to the Coast Guard and local authorities.

The Coast Guard searched for Timothy Morrison, 44, of Katy, Texas, before suspending the operation Monday at 7:15 p.m.

“The decision to suspend a search is never an easy one,” said Cmdr. Zac Ford. “We send our thoughts and prayers to the Morrison family and all those affected by this incident.”

The fire on the platform operated by the Clovelly Oil Co. Inc., New Orleans, burned through the weekend before it was extinguished Monday morning. Company officials said three oil wells into the platform had been shut-in prior to conducting routine maintenance on the platform.

One active gas well was shut-in after the fire erupted shortly after 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

Three Clovelly employees were injured along with four workers with two contractors who were working on the platform, Clovelly officials said.

One of the contractors, Hydra Steam Generator Inc., Houston, was cleaning pipes on the platform when the explosion happened, television station WWL reported. The Louisiana State Police HAZMAT Division is investigating the cause of the explosion.

Coast Guard pilots from Air Station New Orleans flew over the area Monday and reported no visible signs of pollution. That monitoring will continue, Coast Guard officials said.

The Kenner platform is one remnant of the oil industry on Lake Pontchartrain, where Louisiana officials imposed a moratorium on drilling new wells in 1991 and renewed it a decade later, to reduce pollution risks.  Clovelly owns a majority stake in seven active wells remaining in the lake.


Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.