Second Gulf Explosion Doesn’t Take Away Need for Drilling

Nicolas Loris /

A production platform caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico this morning 80 miles south of Vermilion Bay, Louisiana. Fortunately, according to early reports, the 13 workers on the platform survived the scare, but rescue crews took the workers to the hospital for precautionary measures.

What exploded was not a drilling rig (like in the instance of the BP spill) but a production platform. AP reports that the shallow-water platform was not producing oil at the time of the explosion, although the well does normally produce approximately 58,800 gallons of oil and 900,000 cubic feet of gas per day. Although an official for Mariner, the company that operates the rig, reported that no oil is leaking from the platform and they properly shut the well, a thin oil sheen was present. The latest speculation is that the sheen may be from spilled petroleum from the production platform.

Without a doubt this is a different case than BP’s Macondo well blowout that leaked over 200 million gallons of oil into the water—with BP’s posing a much bigger environmental and economic challenge. If anything, the silver lining from Mariner’s production platform fire is that their response in terms of closing the seven collection wells and evacuation of the 13 crew members seems to have been professionally and successfully carried out.