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Oily Sheen Spotted Near Burning Gulf Oil Platform

Editor's Note: As of Friday, Sept. 3, Coast Guard officials have said no oil could be seen on the water near the Mariner Energy platform, contradicting an earlier report.

An oil platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in U.S. Coast Guard helicopters rescuing 13 people from the water. The oil platform owner, Mariner Energy of Houston, reported an oil sheen on the surface covering an area of about a mile by 100 feet.

The incident occurred about 90 miles (145 kilometers) south of Vermillion Bay, La., west of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which exploded and sank in April.

Mariner's oil platform was not producing gas or oil at the time of the explosion because of maintenance, according to an AP story that cited the Department of Homeland Security, but that the rig was producing during the last two weeks of August.

The Coast Guard requested a trajectory analysis of possible spreading for 100 barrels of crude and diesel aboard the platform at the time of the explosion, and for the 1,400 barrels per day that represented the platform's daily production rate.

The platform produced about 9.2 million cubic feet (0.3 million cubic meters) of natural gas per day and 1,400 barrels of oil and condensate during the last week of August, according to Mariner Energy. (About 1 million cubic feet of natural gas could power 1,000 average households for four days, according to the American Gas Association.)

This latest explosion occurred as the U.S. government and BP continue to assess environmental damage from the massive Gulf oil spill that began with the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Scientists have recently tried to figure out the fate of huge oil plumes that threaded their way out into the Gulf.

The oil platform owned by Mariner sat in waters about 2,500 feet (762 m) deep, compared with the mobile Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that operated in waters about 5,000 feet (1,600 m) deep.

The 13 people picked up by the Coast Guard were first taken to a neighboring platform in preparation for transfer to a hospital.

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