Investigation Launched in Gulf of Mexico Oil Platform Fire

The federal government is investigating yesterday’s <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/oil_spills">fire aboard a Mariner Energy oil and gas production platform in the Gulf of Mexico. The fire, which began yesterday morning, resulted in the rescue of 13 workers on the platform, and raised fears of another oil spill in the Gulf.

Fortunately, those fears were not realized. Though initial reports indicated that a sheen had appeared on the surface of the water near the site of the fire, the US Coast Guard said later in the day that there was no evidence of oil in the water, or a leak at the site. Mariner Energy said automated shutoff equipment turned off the flow of oil and gas from the platform’s seven producing wells.

The fire was reported around 9:30 a.m. local time, and was extinguished late yesterday afternoon.

The rig, known as the Vermillion 380 production platform, sets in 340 feet of water about 90 miles south of Vermillion Bay, off the Louisiana Gulf Coast, and is located just west of where BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded this past April.

According to a Bloomberg News report, the fire started on or near the platform’s upper-deck living quarters and was not caused by an explosion, as was first reported.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the federal investigation of the fire will be conducted by a newly created investigative unit within the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, supported by the Coast Guard. Investigators had already begun conducting interviews last night.

According to Reuters, the fire was the fifth reported at offshore sites operated by Mariner since October 2006. The Vermillion 380 platform was last inspected in January and found to have three minor compliance violations.

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