The U.S. Coast Guard said this morning that a natural gas and oil drilling platform exploded 80 miles off the coast of Louisiana. A Coast Guard spokesperson said the platform, Vermilion Oil Rig 360, is an oil and gas platform in 2,500 feet of water and is owned by Houston-based Mariner Energy.
It is not currently producing oil or gas. (The AP updates its story to note the platform was in production at the time of the fire.) Apache Corp. recently purchased Mariner in a multi-billion dollar deal.
Just yesterday, however, the Financial Times reported that employees from Apache and Mariner, along with thousands of oil industry workers, rallied in Houston to protest the Obama administration’s offshore drilling moratorium that was designed as a safety precaution after BP’s disastrous Gulf oil spill. A Mariner Energy employee chastised the Obama administration for its drilling moratorium, which would not have affected the rig that exploded today:
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. [...]
“I have been in the oil and gas industry for 40 years, and this administration is trying to break us,” said Barbara Dianne Hagood, senior landman for Mariner Energy, a small company. “The moratorium they imposed is going to be a financial disaster for the gulf coast, gulf coast employees and gulf coast residents.”
Apache Corp. recently agreed to buy BP assets in order to help the British oil giant meet its financial obligations as a result of its Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Thirteen workers were on the rig when it exploded; the Coast Guard has said that “all 13 workers involved in the production platform explosion are accounted for, but one person is injured.”
The Washington Post reports, “In its recent Securities and Exchange filing, the company said that the Interior Department’s moratorium on deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico had affected Mariner’s operations. It said its operations ‘may be impacted in the future by increased regulatory oversight, which may increase the cost of’ Outer Continental Shelf wells ‘and delay drilling and production therefrom.’”