The Coast Guard has responded and, according to CNN, rescued 12 of the 13 on board the rig unharmed. One person was recovered with injuries. The severity of those injuries are not yet known.
According to a Coast Guard spokesman, Vermilion Oil Platform 380, owned by Houston-based Mariner Energy, was not known to be producing any oil at the time of the explosion
The rig is almost 100 miles south of Vermilion Bay, which is just off the southwestern coast of Louisiana. It is west of where the BP-owned Deepwater Horizon exploded earlier this year.
UPDATE 12:47 p.m.: The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports the rig was not involved in drilling and is a fixed platform, unlike the BP rig, which was a floating rig.
UPDATE 12:58 p.m.: USA Today reports “several Coast Guard helicopters were on scene by late morning.” Coast Guard commander Cheri Ben-Iseau told USA Today that the cause of the explosion is still unknown. The Coast Guard has not determined if the explosion caused any leaks of crude oil, however the Associated Press reports that the rig was not producing any oil at the time of the accident.
UPDATE 1:30 p.m.: After an initial flyover inspection, rig owner Mariner Energy says there is no visible oil leakage near the explosion site, according to CNN. The company says there are no injuries, though initial reports conflict with that statement.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs says the government has “assets ready” to deal withany environmental problems that may stem from the explosion.
UPDATE 1:42 p.m.: Mariner Energy has not updated their website with details of the explosion. According to the site, the company is “one of the leading independent oil and gas exploration and production companies in the Gulf of Mexico,” and ” has participated in more than 35 deepwater projects, operating more than half of them,” in the Gulf of Mexico. The site also says Mariner is “among the largest lease holders on the continental shelf with interests in approximately 240 Federal leases and more than 30 state blocks (at year-end 2009).”
UPDATE 1:50 p.m.: The 13 people involved in the explosion have been transported to Terrebonne General Medical Center in Houma, La, the AP reports. Authorities still have not confirmed the claims by Mariner Energy that no oil is leaking into the water.
The Vermilion 380 is a shallow water platform, according to an Apache Corp. spokesman. Apache Corp. is currently negotiating a deal to buy Mariner Energy. According to the AP, a company report says the well was drilled in the “third quarter of 2008 in 340 feet of water.” Comparatively, BP’s exploded rig was drilled nearly 5.000 feet deep.
UPDATE 2:00 p.m.: Reuters reports no injuries to any of the 13 involved in explosion.
UPDATE 2:01 p.m. Coast guard has announced a “mile-long oil sheen” is spreading from the burning, exploded platform.
UPDATE 2:14 p.m.: The CBC reports that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was told by Mariner that the oil sheen is “‘contained and nearly burned out.'”
UPDATE 3:30 p.m.: Though the “mile-long sheen” is there, a Mariner Energy spokesman says the blast did not cause an oil leak. If true, the sheen is the only oil that should enter Gulf waters.
UPDATE 3:40 p.m.: A Bureau of Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement spokesperson confirmed that the rig had not been in active production recently. The rig started production late last year, with less than 10 gas wells and lines, however has been undergoing maintenance for some time.
Mariner’s claim that a leak was not caused by the explosion has yet to be verified by authorities.
UPDATE 6:20 p.m.: All 13 involved have been rescued and transported to safety. The fire is out and there is no indication of an oil sheen or leak, according to the Coast Guard. Even though a “mile-long” oil sheen was reported earlier in the day, the Coast Guard is now disputing that.
Still, the Coast Guard says it will continue to monitor the situation. The cause of the explosion is still unknown.
Mariner Energy released a statement saying its “automated shutoff equipment on the platform safely turned off the flow of oil and gas from the platform’s seven producing wells before the fire occurred.”
That is exactly what did not happen when BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded earlier this year, causing unprecedented economic and as of yet, unknown, environmental damage.
Though some news outlets reported no injures, it now seems as though one of the 13 was in fact injured, though not severely. The specifics regarding the injury are still unknown.
UPDATE 8:50 p.m.: Still no sign of oil sheen, fire is still out.
If you’re following news tonight, turn your attention to Hurricane Earl. Now a strong category 2 storm with winds up to 110 miles an hour. Warnings are issued for areas as high north as Nova Scotia, though, the storm is dying down, which is of course, a good sign.
We’ll bring you more updates as the Vermilion story progresses.