Mariner Energy oil rig fire extinguished, no sign of oil spill in Gulf

An oil rig run belonging to Mariner Energy caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico Thursday. The Coast Guard has now refuted earlier reports of an oil sheen on the water.

A Mariner Energy oil rig, the Vermillion Block 380, burns 80 miles south of the Louisiana coast Thursday. The fire has since been put out.

A fire on an offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico has been extinguished, and officials say oil does not appear to be leaking from the facility.

The US Coast Guard is at the platform roughly 80 miles south of Vermillion Bay in Louisiana, and will continue to monitor the facility for signs of a leak, a Coast Guard official said on Thursday.

The announcement was welcome news along the beleaguered Gulf coast – a region that is still working to overcome the effects of the summer-long oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon rig.

US Coast Guard Capt. Peter Troedsson told reporters in New Orleans that officials near the rig have not been able to confirm an earlier report of a mile-long sheen of oil. No oil has been spotted in the water by Coast Guard officials, he said.

“The boats and aircraft on scene cannot see a sheen,” he said. “We remain ready to respond if any sheen becomes visible.”

The fire broke out Thursday morning, forcing all 13 crew members off the rig and into the water. They were later picked up by an oil services boat. No injuries were reported.

The offshore oil production facility, known as Vermillion Block 380, is in 340 feet of water. In contrast, the sea at the Deepwater Horizon rig is a mile deep.

If a leak is detected at the Vermillion rig, the relative shallow water would make response and repair efforts significantly easier than were experienced at the Deepwater Horizon rig.

The facility is owned by Mariner Energy Inc., an independent oil and gas exploration and production company based in Houston.

The platform collected production from seven wells producing about 1,400 barrels of oil per day and 9 million cubic feet of gas. Production was shut down, the company said, before the crew evacuated.

"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 and the crew evacuated," a statement from Mariner said.

There is no indication how the fire started. Officials say there will be an investigation.

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