Oil platform explodes in Gulf of Mexico

Energy Matters0


An estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil gushed out of a deepwater well that ruptured after the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded on April 20 off the coast of Louisiana.

The explosion killed 11 workers and it took nearly three months to stem the flow of oil gushing out of the well about 1500 metres below the surface.

“How many times are we going to gamble with lives, economies and ecosystems?” said John Hocevar, Greenpeace USA oceans campaign director.

“It’s time we learn from our mistakes and go beyond oil.”

The Mariner Energy platform that caught fire on Thursday was operating in relatively shallow water, about 103m, and was not drilling at the time of the explosion, the Texas-based company said.

It had been producing approximately 1400 barrels of oil and condensate and 9.2 million cubic feet of natural gas a day.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said Mariner told him that the fire started in one of seven active wells on the platform and that “all seven are shut in right now”.

The White House said it was monitoring the situation and reserved judgment until more information was available.

“We will continue to gather information as we respond, we obviously have response assets ready for deployment, should we receive reports of pollution in the water,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters.

Gibbs declined to say whether the president believed inspections of rigs in the Gulf of Mexico was moving fast enough in the wake of the BP disaster.

“Obviously we’ve had taken some, we took a series of steps after the BP incident,” Gibbs said.

“If this situation warrants, we’ll certainly update that.”

It was also not clear how this incident would affect Obama’s moratorium on offshore drilling, which is being challenged in the courts and has faced harsh criticism from his political foes.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has held a congressional investigation into the BP spill, sent a swift letter to Mariner Energy’s chairman requesting a briefing on the incident.

“In the wake of the BP catastrophe, this is an extremely disturbing event,” said committee chairman Henry Waxman.

“I call on the administration to immediately redouble safety reviews of all offshore drilling and platform operations in the gulf and take all appropriate action to ensure safety and protection of the environment.”