Oil rig explosion: Is oil leaking from Mariner Energy rig near Vermillion Bay?

Oil rig explosion reports are so far unclear about whether a Mariner Energy facility south of Vermillion Bay has caused an oil leak. The rig is in shallow water, and no injuries are confirmed.

The US Coast Guard Cutter Decisive, seen here at the Deepwater Horizon site, is responding to a reported oil rig explosion on a Mariner Energy facility located 100 miles south of Vermillion Bay, La., in the Gulf of Mexico.

A oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico Thursday morning forced all 13 crew members to evacuate into the water.

Company officials said in a statement Thursday morning that the incident does not appear to have resulted in an oil leak. The Associated Press, however, has reported that the Coast Guard says there is a mile long, 100 foot-wide oil sheen near the platform.

The fire occurred on a platform about 100 miles south of Louisiana’s Vermillion Bay and west of the site of the Deepwater Horizon accident. The rig is in 320 feet of water, much shallower than the mile-deep well operated by BP that caused a massive oil spill this summer.

The shallower water would make an attempt to plug any leak significantly easier.

The Coast Guard dispatched helicopters, airplanes, and four cutters to the scene. The crew members had evacuated the rig in immersion suits and were picked up in the water by an oil service boat. The company says no injuries have been reported.

The facility, Vermillion Block 380, is owned by Mariner Energy Inc., an independent oil and gas exploration, development, and production company based in Houston. The company holds 350 offshore exploration leases, with 110 currently in development, according to the company’s website.

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.

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