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Kai Ryssdal:This morning, a commercial helicopter flying out over the Gulf of Mexico spotted something I’m very sure the crew would rather not have seen. An explosion on an oil rig off the coast of Louisiana. Turns out to have been much less of a story than everybody feared at first. But Marketplace’s Eve Troeh reports it is still not what anybody needed.
Eve Troeh: A fire broke out on a shallow water oil and gas rig owned by Mariner Energy, based in Houston. The Vermillion rig sits about 100 miles off the coast of Louisiana. It’s about 200 miles west of where BP’s deepwater rig blew up in April. All 13 crew members escaped this blast by jumping in the water. They were rescued, but the rig kept burning for hours.
The company says it wasn’t oil or gas from the wells burning, but rather something flammable stored up top. The rig was not in production; it was shut down for maintenance. The cause of the explosion remains unknown.
The Coast Guard reported an oily sheen on the water, 100-feet wide and more than a mile long. That led government officials to close down fishing areas, and make plans to contain the oil. But now the Coast Guard says there is no sheen and no trace of spilled oil.
Still, the incident may hurt Louisiana’s push for the White House to lift its moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf. Local leaders say thousands of workers could lose their jobs if the moratorium remains in place.
I’m Eve Troeh for Marketplace.
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