Three big differences from the Deepwater explosion, right off the bat: (a) This one isn’t owned by BP (and apparently never was, contrary to what one of our commenters claimed in another thread); (b) the 13 crew members are overboard but are all alive; and (c) it’s located in shallow water, so even if the worst occurs and another leak is detected, presumably plugging it would be easier and quicker.

Mariner Energy focuses on oil and gas exploration and production company focused on the Gulf of Mexico. In April, Apache Corp., another independent petroleum company, announced plans to buy Mariner in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $3.9 billion, including the assumption of about $1.2 billion of Mariner’s debt. That deal
is pending.

Apache spokesman Bob Dye said the platform is in shallow water.

Responding to an oil spill in shallow water is much easier than in deepwater, where crews depend on remote-operated vehicles access equipment on the sea floor.

More from CNBC:

In comments to CNBC Thursday, a spokesman for Mariner Energy said “it doesn’t appear that there is any spill or sheen to be seen on the water” following the fire.

“The fire occurred away from the well…it wasn’t involved in the area where they had oil producing wells,” said Patrick Cassidy, a spokesman for Mariner. He added that the facility isn’t a drilling rig, but rather a production facility.

DHS claims that the rig wasn’t producing oil and gas when the explosion hit. Time to breathe easy? Maybe not: CNN’s Ed Henry is hearing from the Coast Guard that the platform was in production and that it … wasn’t equipped with a standard blowout preventer. (The crew did, however, allegedly start emergency shutdown before bailing out.) As of an hour ago, the rig was still on fire but I’m not sure what the status is now. Jindal is set to speak within an hour or so. Stand by for updates galore.

Update: WDSU says that because it’s a platform, not a rig, it’s not actively engaged in drilling.

Update: A tip from a reader who, unlike me, knows what he’s talking about:

If the platform is not a drilling platform then it doesn’t need a traditional blowout preventer. The difference being is that with drilling the oil is being forced out at a high rate, therefor need a blowout preventer that can hold back all that pressure. If this platform is a production platform, all it needs is something to stop the flow in the pipes which is flowing with much lower pressure.

Update: How much oil and gas was the platform churning out? CNN:

“Mariner has notified and is working with regulatory authorities in response to this incident,” the statement said. “The cause is not known, and an investigation will be undertaken. During the last week of August 2010, production from this facility averaged approximately 9.2 million cubic feet of natural gas per day and 1,400 barrels of oil and condensate.”

Update: Oh boy. Here we go:

The Coast Guard is saying that a mile-long oil sheen is spreading from the site off an offshore petroleum platform that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana.

The site of the explosion is west of where BP’s massive spill occurred.

Update: Ah, a comforting explanation for the sheen. It’s not oil bubbling up from the seabed; it’s oil that had already been captured and stored on the rig.

Also, Mariner indicated that the fire — which was first reported to the Coast Guard by workers on a nearby rig around 9:20 a.m. (10:20 a.m. ET) — was not sparked by an explosion. It started at one of the platform’s seven active wells, the company said, though its cause is under investigation…

Jindal said that Mariner has told him that all seven wells have been closed off and that what is burning now is from fuel in storage, and not from an active leak.

Tags: Louisiana