The Mariner Energy Oil Rig Explosion: In the Wake of the BP Disaster

oil rig explosionAround 9:30 local time on September 2, an oil rig explosion was reported in the Gulf of Mexico, about 90 miles south of Vermilion Bay. Despite the fire and explosion on the Mariner Energy rig, all 13 crew members escaped into the water and were rescued. The workers have been applauded for having the presence of mind to remember their training, as they were found wearing their survival suits and holding hands to stay together. The Crystal Clear, a support vessel for oil rigs that was in the area, found the crew members after they had been in the water for about 2 hours. These workers were given soda and water, then taken to a hospital where it was determined that only one of them had sustained injuries.

Behind the Blaze

The explosion resulted from a fire that started on the upper deck of the rig’s platform, where the living quarters are located, but the cause of the fire has not yet been determined. Members of the Coast Guard reported that the fire burned for hours, but has since been extinguished. Fortunately, the rig was undergoing maintenance at the time of the explosion, so no oil or gas was being produced. This is one likely reason for the lack of oil leaks associated with this incident, but surveillance will be continued to make sure that leaks do not emerge unnoticed.

Government Investigation

The U.S. government has announced that it will be conducting a full investigation of the Mariner Energy oil rig incident. Michael Bromwich, the director of the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), stated that the investigation would attempt to find out what caused the fire and explosion, how it happened, and whether or not any laws or regulations were violated. If there have been violations, Bromwich said, the investigation would determine what kind of “enforcement action” should be taken.

Oil Industry Regulation

With the Mariner Energy explosion just a few months behind the BP disaster, environmental activists have been questioning oil industry regulation and wondering why nothing was done in the wake of the BP explosion. Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune called the BP disaster a “wake up call,” lamenting the fact that the world had “hit the snooze button” instead of paying attention and making much-needed changes to oil industry regulation. “Today,” he stated on the day of the explosion, “the alarm went off again.” However, it’s looking unlikely that any steps will be taken, as International Association of Drilling Contractors president Lee Hunt states that the Mariner Energy explosion was “an industrial-style accident that could have happened onshore.” Arguments are sure to continue from both sides, so oil industry regulation will remain a difficult subject for the U.S.

About the Author: Heather Green is a Christian mom, freelance writer, pet lover and the resident blogger for OnlineNursingDegrees.org, a free informational website offering tips and advice on online nursing colleges.

[image via Jalopnik]