A mile-long oil sheen is now reportedly visible where an offshore oil and gas platform exploded this morning in the Gulf of Mexico. The Vermilion Oil Rig 360, owned by Mariner Energy — which was recently purchased by Apache Corp. — was producing about 58,800 gallons of oil and 900,000 cubic feet of gas per day.
As ThinkProgress noted, just yesterday Mariner Energy said the Obama administration’s moratorium on offshore drilling is “trying to break us.” Mariner Energy also made a recent filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission saying 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.”
But if today’s explosion wasn’t enough evidence, government safety records indicate that Mariner Energy and Apache Corp. are desperately in need of regulation. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s Outer Continental Shelf Civil/Criminal Penalties Program cited Mariner Energy for two violations just in the first six months of this year, and once more in 2007.
A summary of the fines assessed against Mariner Energy:
Apache Energy has been cited for 22 violations since 1998, totaling over $1.74 million in fines, including a $435,000 fine this year for removing a key piece of equipment from a sump system, which then “could not automatically maintain oil at a level sufficient to prevent discharge into the Gulf of Mexico.”
A summary of the fines assessed against Apache Corp.:
— Two violations in 2010, totaling $690,000.
— Two violations in 2008, totaling $135,000.
— Three violations in 2007, totaling $486,000.
— Five violations in 2006, totaling $216,000.
— Three violations in 2005, totaling $122,000.
— One violation in 2004, for $5,000.
— One violation in 2002, for $13,000.
— Four violations in 2001, totaling $70,000.
— One violation in 1999, for $6,000.
Mariner Energy is probably right that the company will be “impacted” by “increased regulatory oversight.” But its workers, and the Gulf ecosystem, might avoid being impacted as they were today.