An offshore oil platform exploded and was burning Thursday in the Gulf of Mexico about 80 miles south of Vermilion Bay, with some workers reported in the water.
The explosion aboard the platform, owned by Mariner Energy, occurred west of the site of the April offshore rig blast that caused the massive BP oil spill.
The Coast Guard said no one was killed in the explosion, which was reported by a commercial helicopter flying over the site around 9 a.m. CDT.
Coast Guard Cmdr. Cheri Ben-Iesau said seven Coast Guard helicopters, two airplanes and three cutters were dispatched to the scene from New Orleans, Houston and Mobile, Ala.
Ben-Iesau said some of the 13 people believed working on the oil platform were spotted in the water in life vests. One is reportedly injured.
Ben-Iesau said authorities do not know whether oil is leaking from the site.
The Department of Homeland Security said the platform, known as Vermilion Oil Platform 380, was owned by Mariner Energy of Houston. DHS said it was not producing oil and gas.
A call to the company seeking comment was not immediately returned.
Mariner Energy focuses on oil and gas exploration on the Gulf of Mexico. In April, Apache Corp., another independent petroleum company, announced plans to buy Mariner in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $3.9 billion, including the assumption of about $1.2 billion of Mariner's debt. That deal is pending.
Apache spokesman Bob Dye said the rig is in shallow water.
If it's in shallow water, the likelihood of another major spill like the Deepwater Horizon tragedy is quite small -- so that's a relief.
Still, I guess this wasn't the best week for Big Oil to organize protests of the drilling moratorium:
Thousands of oil industry workers rallied on Wednesday to lift the moratorium on new deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and head off new taxes and punitive measures in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill.
Companies ranging from Chevron to Apache bussed in up to 5,000 employees to the Houston convention centre to underline to Washington the industry’s contribution to the country.
“We make America run, we make America work, and they need to remember that,’’ said Carroll Robinson of the Citizens Chamber of Commerce to cheers and applause. “If you stop drilling, if you stop producing, America stops working.’’
Attendants donned red T-shirts handed out at the door that proclaimed: “We are energy nation.’’ Others wore the “I am an energy citizen’’ and “Rally for jobs, our jobs, our future,’’ included in the gift bags. They roared when several speakers noted President Obama’s Air Force One flew on fuel the industry produced and the nation watched his speeches on televisions powered by industry fuel.
“So why are we cutting off the Gulf of Mexico?’’ said John Hofmeister, former president of Shell USA and chief executive of Citizens for Affordable Energy. “You cut off your nose to spite your face, Mr president.’’