Updated: Oil Sheen Seen In Water – The Coast Guard is responding to another oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. 13 people were onboard when it exploded and caught fire Thursday morning 9/2 Rescue choppers from New Orleans and Houston are responding. The rig is known as “Vermilion 398.” The rig is owned by Mariner Energy, which is based in Houston, and is in water about 2,500 feet deep.

(CNN) — A well connected to an oil and gas production platform caught on fire Thursday, engulfing the vessel in flames about 100 miles off the central coast of Louisiana and forcing 13 people overboard, Gov. Bobby Jindal said Thursday.

All 13 people have been accounted for, said Petty Officer Bill Colclough of the Coast Guard. Mariner Energy, which owns the Vermilion Oil Rig 380, said none of the crew members was hurt in the incident, despite earlier reports of a single injured worker.

Despite earlier reports, Marine said the fire was not sparked by an explosion. The fire started at one of the platform’s seven active wells.

Colclough told CNN that the platform apparently is still on fire from the explosion, saying Coast Guard helicopters and cutters are en route to the scene.

The company confirmed that a fire started on board the platform, but said that an initial flyover of the site indicated “no hydrocarbon spill.” However, Jindal said there were reports of a “sheen” stretching just over a mile long.

A man who said he saw the oil platform blast in the Gulf of Mexico reported suddenly seeing “a bunch of smoke” coming up from the platform. David Reed, a paramedic on board a nearby oil rig, said radios started “lighting up like a Christmas tree” after the blast.

The explosion comes nearly five months after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded April 20, killing 11 people and causing oil to gush into the Gulf of Mexico,

leading to one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.

That oil rig, contracted by BP, had 126 workers, and sank after three days of the U.S. Coast Guard’s efforts to put out flames.

An oil rig drills the well, which usually takes a period of weeks; a production platform is built after the well is drilled, and remains there for years. It pumps pressure down the hole to keep the well flowing, and sometimes collects the oil or gas

U.S. agencies and BP worked to stop oil spilling from the ruptured Deepwater Horizon well, an onslaught of oil into the Gulf waters that could hurt the region for years. The well has been capped since July 15, and no new oil is flowing into the Gulf.

The failure of the well’s blowout preventer triggered the April 20 explosion, and crews are expected to remove the equipment from the well since it may hold valuable forensic evidence as to why it failed.

The Obama administration tried to impose a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the wake of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon in April, but the ban is currently in legal limbo.

A group of companies that provide boats and equipment to the deepwater drilling industry sued to overturn the ban and won in June.

The government tried again in July, imposing a new moratorium and asking for the suit to be thrown out. A federal judge refused this week to dismiss it.

The Vermilion platform did not violate the moratorium, said Melissa Schwartz, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, which replaced the Minerals Management Service.

“This was an oil and gas production platform in approximately 340 feet of water, 102 miles offshore Louisiana (80 nautical miles),” she said. “This platform was authorized to produce oil and gas at this water depth. The current suspension involves drilling rigs in water depths greater than 500 feet,” she said.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday that the federal government has “assets ready” to respond to any environmental problems resulting from the explosion of an oil platform off the coast of Louisiana.

Mariner Energy describes itself as one of the leading independent oil and gas exploration and production companies in the Gulf of Mexico. The company said it had interests in about 350 federal offshore leases last year, with more than 110 of the 350 in development.

The company has about 300 employees. Its most recent quarterly net income was $1.7 million.

Shares of Mariner Energy slipped 5 percent Thursday after the explosion. Shares of Mariner Energy fell $1.16 to $22.19.

The company is in the process of a planned merger with a larger company, Apache Corporation. The merger is about four to six weeks away, an Apache spokesman said.


VERMILION BAY, LA (WAFB) – The Coast Guard is responding to another oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to the Coast Guard, 13 people were onboard when it exploded and caught fire Thursday morning.

Everyone is accounted for. Officials are reporting one injury.

The injured worker is being taken to Terrebonne General Medical Center in Houma.

The other workers are in the water in immersion suits.

The rig is located about 90 miles south of Vermilion Bay.

Rescue choppers from New Orleans and Houston are responding.

The explosion happened around 9:30 a.m. and as of 10:30 a.m. it was still on fire.

Coast Guard officials said they do not yet know if there is any type of leak associated with this explosion.

They said there are reports it was not actively producing product, but they will investigate whether there is any type of environmental impact.

The rig is known as “Vermilion 398.”

The rig is owned by Mariner Energy, which is based in Houston, and is in water about 2,500 feet deep.

The company has an office in Lafayette.

This recent explosion is west of the one that happened on April 20 which caused a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Gov. Bobby Jindal will hold a news conference in Baton Rouge at the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness at 12:30 p.m. on the recent rig incident.

You can watch it LIVE on Cable Channel 9 or www.wafb.com.

Click here for more on Mariner Energy


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