No oil slick from site of new Gulf explosion
Published Thursday, September 2, 2010 10:52PM EDT
The U.S. Coast Guard said that no oil has spilled from an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico that exploded and caught fire Thursday morning.
The blast occurred on the Vermilion Oil Platform 380, about 320 kilometres west of BP's enormous spill and 160 kilometres off the Louisiana coast.
Earlier on Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard said that platform owner Mariner Energy reported a pool of oil 1.6 kilometres long and about 30 metres wide near the damaged oil platform.
But Coast Guard Cmdr. Cheri Ben-Iesau said that crews could not confirm that there was an oil slick in the area, and Mariner Energy said in a statement that it did not see oil on the water after flying over the site.
All 13 crew members on board survived the blast. The U.S. Coast Guard said one crew member was injured, though the nature of the injury has not been released. The company said there were no injuries.
A commercial helicopter company reported the blast to the U.S. Coast Guard at 9:30 a.m. CDT. It sparked a fire that oil crews were able to extinguish by Thursday afternoon.
Houston-based Mariner Energy Inc. said it did not know what caused the explosion.
According to Mariner officials, there were seven active production wells on the platform and they were shut down after the fire started, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said.
The Gulf of Mexico is about 100 metres deep at the site of the platform -- much less than the 1.5 kilometres of water that BP's Deep Water Horizon platform sat in before it was destroyed in an explosion earlier this year.
The Vermilion Oil Platform 380 was churning out 222,582 litres of oil and 900,000 cubic feet of gas daily, and can store about 16,000 litres of oil, according to a U.S. homeland security update acquired by The Associated Press.
White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs said the Obama administration had "response assets ready for deployment should we receive reports of pollution in the water."
Scramble for survivors
The Coast Guard sent helicopters, airplanes and boats to the scene Thursday morning, where they spotted all crew members who were present at the time of the explosion.
"Thirteen people were seen huddled together in the water wearing gumby suits or immersion suits, water protection suits, so we were able to confirm that all people were accounted for," Coast Guard spokesman Chief Petty Officer John Edwards said.
All of the crew members were picked up by an offshore service vessel known as the Crystal Clear. They were then taken to a nearby platform and flown to a hospital in Houma, La., and were later released.
With files from The Associated Press