Mariner Energy’s oil rig explodes in Gulf of Mexico

AN OIL and gas platform operated by Mariner Energy burst into flames yesterday and unleashed a mile-long oil sheen into the Gulf of Mexico, just as engineers on a nearby platform were resolving the worst offshore oil spill in history.

All 13 crew members were rescued with no injuries from the ocean near the burning platform and were taken to another offshore platform, the US Coast Guard said.

The fire burned for several hours before being extinguished. A company spokesman said it started on an upper deck of the platform where living quarters were located, and had not been caused by a “blowout,” or sudden release of oil and gas from a well.

The rig had been shut down for maintenance when the accident occurred, US officials said, likely limiting the damage as oil and gas from the ocean floor would not continue to feed the blaze.