September 2nd, 2010
09:38 PM ET

Coast Guard: Platform on fire in Gulf; 13 workers rescued

[Updated at 9:36 p.m.] Earl has been downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane but is still dangerous, the National Hurricane Center said in its 8 p.m. Thursday forecast. 
As of 8 p.m., the center of Earl was about 160 miles (260 kilometers) south of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and about 625 miles (1,005 kilometers) south-southwest of Nantucket. It was heading north at about 18 mph (30 kph) with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph (165 kph). 
"Even if the center of Earl remains offshore ... hurricane force winds are expected to occur in the Outer Banks overnight tonight," the center said Thursday.

[Updated at 2:14 p.m.] For continuing coverage of the incident involving a production platform on fire in the Gulf read the full story here.

[Updated at 2:08 p.m.] U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Elizabeth Bordelon tells CNN there is a sheen at the site of the production platform that measures approximately 1 mile by 100 feet. This information comes after Gov. Bobby Jindal who said there were reports of a mile-long sheen.
[Updated at 1:03 p.m.] Mariner Energy, owner of the production platform, said in a press release that no hydrocarbon spill has been reported after an initial flyover of the incident.

"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."

The company also said no injuries have been reported.

[Updated at 12:48 p.m.] David Reed, a paramedic on board a neighboring oil rig located 14 miles from the platform that exploded, told iReport he saw all thirteen workers rescued from the water.

“We were up here in the radio room and all of sudden we saw a whole bunch of smoke coming from the platform," Reed said. "Shortly after all the radios started lighting up like a Christmas tree. They called any helicopters in the area, any boats in the area to respond, they were saying there were people in the water. There were multiple people in the water.”

See Reed's iReport of what he witnessed

WWL: Coast Guard reporting production platform incident

WDSU: Production platform explodes in Gulf

iReport: Did you see the explosion? Share images

[Updated at 12:32 p.m.] White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday that the federal government has "assets ready" to respond to any environmental problems resulting from the explosion of an oil platform off the coast of Louisiana.

[Updated at 12:31 p.m.] All thirteen people aboard a production platform that exploded in the Gulf are accounted for and safely on a commercial vessel according to initial information, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a statement.

"We continue to gather information as we respond with full force, and have oil spill response assets ready for immediate deployment should we receive any reports of pollution," the statement said.

[Updated at 11:53 a.m.] U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Bill Colclough tells CNN that 12 people from the production platform are in water immersion suits as they await rescue.

Colclough told CNN there are reports the production platform, which is for both oil and natural gas, is still on fire.

"We don't know what caused the rig to catch on fire," he told CNN, noting the incident is under investigation.

Asked about concerns regarding oil leaks or pollution, Colclough said "there are reports the rig was not actively producing any product, so we don't know if there's any risk of pollution."

Mariner Energy is a leading independent oil and gas exploration and production company in the Gulf of Mexico. About 85 percent of the company's production comes from offshore assets, with a growing share of that coming from deepwater developments.

The explosion comes nearly five months after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded April 20, killing 11 people and causing oil to gush into
the Gulf of Mexico, leading to one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.

[Updated at 11:43 a.m.] U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Bill Colclough tells CNN that all 13 workers involved in the production platform explosion are accounted for, but one person is injured.

Coast Guard Choppers are on the way to the site 80 miles south of Vermilion Bay.

[Posted at 11:33 a.m.] An oil production platform has exploded 80 miles off the coast of Louisiana, with 12 people overboard and one missing, the Coast Guard said Thursday morning.

Rescue attempts are under way for at least 12 people, Coast Guard spokesman John Edwards told CNN. 13 people were on board the production platform total, Edwards said, noting 12 have been accounted for, but one person was missing.

The accident took place 80 miles off the coast of Louisiana on the Vermilion Oil production platform 380, which is owned by Houston-based Mariner Energy.

The Coast Guard has multiple helicopters, an airplane and several Coast Guard cutters en route. It's unknown if there are any injuries.

soundoff (1,154 Responses)
  1. madmatt


    First off, it is a platform, not a rig. Second, because it is a platform, it is in shallow water and they are not drilling. Not even close to the 5000' water the last disaster was in. Lastly, I haven't worked since the last explosion and with this on the shelf, a lot more people will likely be out of work. I have an idea, how about the GOM oil and gas producers close the valves that supply this country with a large percentage of its supply, drive the price of gasoline and about a million other products through the roof and see what is said then. IDIOTS!!!!!!!!!

    So people who can't be trusted to maintain and operate INACTIVE equipment should be trusted to access oil and make the situation worse? You and your friends are obviously too incompetent to be trusted with tools or fire...hell how you manage to leave the house without causing a disaster astounds me.

    September 2, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. woe-is-me

    Hey this movie makes sheds the real light on why we really have and dont need oil in the first place.

    September 2, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • qwerty allstar

      A movie? really man, thats the problem with this country now. We are trying to live our lives through hollywood. THIS IS REAL LIFE

      September 2, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bluemacaw

    Many of you act like gas and oil are our only options. Watch the movie "Who Killed the Electric Car." We had electric cars on the road, and the people loved them. The car companies who made them didn't want their other oil and gas business impacted. So they shredded or crushed the cars and put them in junkyards. Electric cars mean no gasoline, oil, fuel filters, etc. The only thing you have to change is your tires. And this was over 10 years ago.

    September 2, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kate

    Oh joy. Just what we all needed to brighten our next three months. I'm glad the workers are all safe. Heads need to start rolling though.

    September 2, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Vespasian

    It doesn't sound like it's a drilling rig. And some reports are saying it was started when they were sandblasting the deck.

    September 2, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jim atmadison

    Drill, baby, drill!

    Too bad that if there is another blowout, we can't guide to poo up onto the property of the knuckleheads that oppose common-sense controls over Gulf drilling, and leave everything else alone.

    September 2, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rich B

    Just saw Ali Veltri on TV talking to a rep from the energy company. This is another example of why they need an engineer on the news staff to feed the right questions to these anchors.

    1. It is a Production Platform, not a "rig", i.e., no drilling going on.
    2. He should have asked:
    a. what the size of the platform was since the rep said the fire was away from the wellheads, this would put things in perspective.
    b. he should have asked why there were people on the platform, what were they doing? Most/many production platforms are unmanned. The 13 workers were most likely doing some procedure, what was it, how risky was it, have they ever had any problems with this process before?
    c. Were the workers blown off the platform? Did they jump? Or did they evacuate to via a life boat? All has to to with how quickly things happened.

    Come on Ali, you and your producers speaking to you in your ear should do better than this.

    September 2, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. A.W.Messenger

    Is it just me or does this not seem like a coincidence?

    September 2, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Transplant

      Nope its not just you!

      September 2, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kimbra

    We the people of America sadly depend on oil and its sad it had to come to this. Its hard to point a finger when we as Americans can only blame ourselves for depending on oil so much.

    September 2, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Steve

    This is just a fire. Everyone is OK. This probably happened all of the time before the oil spill, but you never heard about it. This is not an oil spill.

    September 2, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. EMTZ from Fresno CA

    oil spill again!!!!!!! let's rename the gulf of Mexico, the Oil gulf! lol! i know!!! thats not funny! im being silly! Im hungry should i get tacos!, show mein, or pizza?...:)

    September 2, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jj20091991

    i love how we have offshore oil before offshore wind farms could you imagine the damage a wind turbine could do if it blows up all that metal falling in the ocean it might acidentally hit a fish and when the fish floats on the water if it dont get picked up it could wash up and destroy our beaches and cause an econimcal disater to the bussinesses on the coast

    September 2, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. David Dunlap

    Although the rig was not producing oil or gas at the time of the explosion, it doesn't mean there will be no leak. If the sinking rig hits or breaks off the wellheads (one on each well), the oil and gas being blocked by the valves that control the flow (known as the Christmas tree) can be released.

    With only 13 people on board, this is probably a production platform that serves numerous wells. The BP single well involved a drilling rig on which there were many people involved in the drilling process. That well and others would have eventually been connected by flowlines to a production platform

    The BP incident was very lucky, because there was only one well being drilled and the drilling rig did not sink onto the wellhead. If the rig had covered the leaking well, it could have taken years to cut through to the wellhead before they could start to do what they've done. In such a case, relief wells drilled from nearby would be the only solution.

    The current event could require a relief well for each leaking wellhead. Fortunately, the wells connected to a production platform are often spread out on the ocean floor and are connected by flowlines to the platform. If this is a drilling platform from which multiple wells were drilled, then you could have a huge problem involving many wells; because all the wellheads would be on or under the platform.

    Think about the faucet in your kitchen sink. If it is turned off, there is no flow. If you break off the faucet with a hammer, you will have uncontrolled water flow. Since this platform was apparent down for maintenance and was producing oil and gas in late August, there is a strong potential for another major oil leak.

    September 2, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • luperculus

      David, this is a fixed platform, with legs all the way down to sea floor, not a rig that might sink. The Christmas trees are not of the sea floor, but on top of the platfom. The wells have emergency shut down valves. The situation is totally different from what happened on the Macondo well.

      September 2, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. rustzula

    PLEASE can we start focusing on either Nuclear or "Green" energies? PLEASE?? Actually thats probably never going to happen. I'm going to build my own spaceship and space station and figure out some way to sustain myself for the rest of my life and just shoot myself off this rock I am sick of this planet and the people who inhabit. (please don't confuse me with "Lee the discovery bomber that dude was CRAZY)

    September 2, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • jj20091991

      i agree with you exept for nuclear power i dont like them ... i also have a plan to create a substainable moon base but now i just have to wait to be come a multi billionare

      September 2, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jdoggers

    Nonya...yeah so I heard that reason about "well it is the democrats fault for not letting them drill onshore, and therefore this oil spill is their fault" on rush limbaugh. Again, we have a republican who cannot think for themselves and just listens to the rush limbaugh show in order to figure out what they should believe on a daily basis.

    September 2, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Transplant

      We conservatives certainly do think for ourselves and are not following the obama nation down the tube of misinformation. The production of energy for OUR USE IS DANGEROUS, coal mining is dangerous, nuclear power is dangerous, what happens to the spent fuel rods, we must realize that a price is to be paid for our comfort , our mobility,our convenience.

      September 2, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
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