New Oil Rig Accident Shocks Gulf Coast: Platform Explodes Off LA

A new offshore accident occurred this morning around 9 a.m. — a Gulf of Mexico oil rig owned by Houston’s Mariner Energy has exploded, sending 13 crew members into the water. So far, the Coast Guard says, only one crew member is known to be injured, and no one has died.

Citing a source at the Department of Homeland Security, the Associated Press has reported that the oil rig was not actively producing. However, as of approximately 1:15, the media began reporting that an oil sheen has been seen spreading from the rig. The oil sheen is reported to be a mile long and about 100 feet wide.

The oil rig accident occurred west of the area where the Deepwater Horizon exploded in April. This platform was located approximately 80 miles south of Vermilion Bay, Louisiana, floating on shallower waters than the Deepwater Horizon. Reports have varied — some say the oil rig was operating a well 2,500 underwater, while others say the rig is floating in waters only 340 feet deep.

Timeline of Today’s Oil Rig Accident in the Gulf of Mexico

At 9 a.m. Central Time, the platform radioed a distress call. By 9:19, the Coast Guard had received two calls saying an oil rig was in flames.

The Coast Guard scrambled seven helicopters to respond to the burning oil platform, according to Katherine McNamara, spokesperson for the 8th District office of the Coast Guard in New Orleans.

The first rescuers reached the scene at 10:30 a.m. and by 11 all seven helicopters were on the scene — five from the New Orleans Coast Guard district and two from the Houston district — along with five Coast Guard cutters.

Early reports said that the platform’s entire crew of 13 was in the water. All 13 have been accounted for and have been evacuated to a hospital in Houma, Louisiana. It has been reported that one oil platform crew member was injured, but the worker’s condition has not been released to the press.

News reports have said that smoke was visibly rising from the platform, but information is still not complete. As of approximately 1:15, the media was reporting that the oil rig continues to burn. Mariner Energy has reportedly deployed three firefighting vessels to the site, and one is already in place fighting the blaze. It is not known whether the oil rig is in danger of floundering.

This story is actively ongoing, and we will attempt to keep readers up to date as events unfold. Also, please note that the New York Times is continually updating the story at the link below.

Sources:

Offshore Oil Platform in the Gulf of Mexico Explodes” (The New York Times, September 2, 2010)

“Oil sheen spreading from Gulf platform explosion” (Associated Press, September 2, 2010)