The following blog was posted on Public Citizen’s energy blog by Tyson Slocum
Another Rig Explosion in the Gulf of Mexico
Here’s what we know: On the morning of Thursday, Sept. 2, an oil and gas rig owned by Mariner Energy, Inc., operating in about 340 feet of water on the continental shelf experienced an explosion and subsequently caught fire, resulting in all 13 workers on board to flee into the water.
This incident is different from BP’s Mancondo disaster because BP’s fiasco occurred on a floating rig operating an exploration well in ultra-deepwater a mile deep, whereas this Mariner Energy operation was in shallow water (340 ft) on a rig that is permanently fixed to the ocean floor below (and not a floating rig).
While we wait for details, here are two things to think about:
1. In June the Obama administration unveiled new, tougher rules for shallow drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The question is: Have federal inspectors personally reviewed this Mariner Energy facility, and what were the results of all certifications and tests of this particular facility?
2. Here’s what we know about Mariner Energy: In January 2004, the private equity funds Carlyle/Riverstone and Texas Pacific Group purchased Mariner Energy from Enron for $271 million and took the company public in March 2005. Carlyle/Riverstone then exited as an investor, but Texas Pacific Group, through its ACON Investments subsidiary, still has significant interests, with ACON’s Bernard Aronson and Jonathan Ginns both serving on Mariner’s board.
Mariner’s Enron legacy continues, as the company’s Chairman, CEO and President is Scott D. Josey, who served as VP of Enron North America from 2000-02. At the time, Enron was engaged in one of the biggest corporate rip-offs in history, stealing billions of dollars from West Coast energy consumers. Jesus G. Melendrez is Mariner’s CFO and he served as a VP with Enron North America from 2000-03. Mariner’s General Counsel, Teresa G. Bushman, worked as a lawyer with Enron from 1996-2003.
On Aug. 11, 2007, the federal government fined Mariner Energy $30,000 after an employee “fell 11 feet.”
Earlier reports claimed the platform was not in production, but this AP report indicates that, according to a homeland security operational update, the platform is a fixed petroleum platform that was in production at the time of the fire, and that the platform was producing about 58,800 gallons of oil and 900,000 cubic feet of gas per day. The platform can store 4,200 gallons of oil.