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September 2, 2010

Fire on Gulf production platform

Mariner Energy, Inc. (NYSE: ME) confirms that a fire has occurred at a production platform located on Vermilion Block 380, approximately 100 miles from the Louisiana coast. All 13 members of the crew have been evacuated and safely accounted for.

While the incident produced an avalache of "oil rig explodes" headlines, CNBC says that, while "earlier accounts reported an explosion on the rig, however, it now appears no explosion occurred prior to the fire."

And while Mariner at first said no injuries have been reported, a later media report said that one person was injured].

Although Mariner says that no hydrocarbon spill was reported following an initial flyover, other reports say there is a one nautical-mile-by-100-foot oil sheen at the site of the platform. The Times-Picayune newspaper reports Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal as saying that Coast Guard flights have been unable to find that sheen. Governor Jindal also said that Mariner had informed him that all all seven wells that were operating at Vermillion Block 380 at the time of the fire today have been shut in, which would mean no oil is leaking.

Mariner says it has notified and is working with regulatory authorities in response to this incident. 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 U.S. Coast Guard says that watchstanders at the Eighth Coast Guard District command center received a report from a pilot aboard a Bristow helicopter at about 10:00 a.m., stating that 13 people were in the water near an oil platform on fire. All 13 people were wearing immersion suits.

The 13 people in the water were picked up by the OSV Crystal Clear and taken to another platform.

Coast Guard helicopters were sent to transport the rescued to Terrebonne General Hospital.

WWLTV New Orleans later reported Coast Guard spokesman Bill Colclough as saying all 13 people had been accounted for and that one of them was injured and was going to be taken to Terrebonne General Medical Center


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