The Coast Guard is responding to an offshore oil production platform explosion on the Vermilion Oil production platform 380. At first, no one knew if the oil production facility was an oil rig or an oil platform. We believe it is a platform and that the Vermilion 380 designation refers to its block number, not its actual "name" if it has one. According to the Coast Guard, the oil platform explosion happened 80 miles south of Grand Isle, Louisiana. The rig is offshore, west of Lafayette and south of Vermillion Bay.
Initial reports from local Louisiana media noted that 13 people were on the oil platform and that 12 have been accounted for at this time. More recent reports thankfully indicate that all 13 crewmembers have now been accounted for, but that one crewmember aboard what our maritime lawyers believe may be a Jones Act vessel was injured in this maritime accident. Even if the Mariner Energy oil platform can be considered fixed or not to be a Jones Act vessel in navigation, injured parties will have claims against a variety of third parties, including the owner of the actual well, Apache Corporation.
The oil platform both is owned and operated by Houston-based Mariner Energy.
The offshore oil production platform explosion happened around 9 a.m., and as of 10:15 a.m., the platform was still burning. Rescue crews from New Orleans and Houston are responding. Two helicopters from Houston and three from New Orleans are responding to the blast. Two other fixed-wing planes and two cutter ships are also responding.
According to its web site, Mariner Energy is “one of the leading independent oil and gas exploration and production companies in the Gulf of Mexico. At December 31, 2009, the company had interests approximately 240 blocks on the continental shelf and 100 blocks in deepwater. About 85% of the company’s production comes from offshore, with a growing share of that coming from deepwater developments such as Geauxpher, Bass Lite and Northwest Nansen.” Mariner notes that it significantly increased Outer Continental Shelf operations and effectively doubled size with its 2006 acquisition of the Gulf of Mexico operations of Forest Oil Corporation.
Our maritime lawyers are speaking with international media now, trying to find out the facts. As soon as we know more, our maritime lawyers will report it to you on this blog, our Facebook page, and our Twitter. If you need assistance in any way, please contact us for help.