Offshore platform explodes in Gulf of Mexico

Posted: September 2, 2010 by The STR in NEWS & LOCAL NEWS
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Seafood suffering

Image by C-Ali via Flickr

HERE WE GO AGAIN 8 MORE MONHS OF THIS DOMINATING THE NEWS, WELL THEY HAD TO DO SOMETHING TO GET THEMEDIA OFF OF PARIS HILTON…

An offshore platform in the Gulf of Mexico exploded on Thursday but company and federal records show it appears to be producing natural gas, not oil.

The U.S. Coast Guard reported that it accounted for all 13 people aboard the rig, which is west of BP’s blown-out well but operates in much shallower water than the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon was drilling.

Quoting a Coast Guard officer, the New Orleans Times-Picayune identified the rig as Vermilion 380, a platform owned by Houston-based Mariner Energy. The company had not yet issued a statement on the accident and an employee reached at its headquarters referred questions to an executive.

According to a 2010 company financial statement, the rig has five wells and produced about 1.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas and liquid natural gas last year but was not currently pumping any oil — though Mariner estimates the field does have petroleum reserves.

Company records and records from the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement — formerly known as the Minerals Management Service — show the platform was among hundreds of rigs damaged by Hurricane Ike in 2008.

The company’s financial statement said it suspended drilling operations while conducting underwater structural repairs and reduced production until the facility was upgraded.

The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which exploded in April, killing 11 workers and triggering the worst oil spill in U.S. history, was a floating drilling ship operating in 5,000 feet of water.

The Vermilion platform, some 80 miles south of Louisiana’s Vermilion Bay, is a permanent rig that federal records show operates in 340 feet of water.

It was not immediately clear what triggered the explosion,.

Coast Guard Cmdr. Cheri Ben-Iesau told The Associated Press that some rig workers were spotted in emergency flotation devices in the water around the rig. Only one injury was reported.

Seven Coast Guard helicopters, two airplanes and three cutters were dispatched to the scene from New Orleans, Houston and Mobile, Alabama, Ben-Iesau said. She said authorities do not know whether oil was leaking from the site.

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