The US tourism industry has been given a scare after another oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico – just over four months since the BP disaster sparked the worst offshore oil spill in history. But officials said there was no evidence of an oil leak, despite earlier reports of a mile-long sheen on the ocean.
All 13 crew on the rig, 100 miles from the Louisiana coastline, escaped into the water and were later rescued.
The US Coast Guard said a blaze burned for hours after the explosion but had now been extinguished.
“Thirteen people were seen huddled together in the water wearing gumby suits or immersion suits, water protection suits, so we were able to confirm that all people were accounted for,” said John Edwards, a Coast Guard spokesman.
The rig operated by Marine Energy said that the explosion was not triggered by a blowout, which was the cause of BP’s disaster.
“The boats and the aircraft on scene cannot see a sheen,” Coast Guard captain Peter Troedsson told a news conference in New Orleans.
The incident has sparked criticism that lessons were not learned from the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in April.
“The BP disaster was supposed to be the wake up call, but we hit the snooze button.
Today the alarm went off again,” Michael Brune, executive director of US environmental group the Sierra Club, said in a statement.
“The oil industry continues to rail against regulation but it’s become all too clear that the current approach to offshore drilling is simply too dangerous.”
Mariner Energy’s workers were conducting maintenance on the site rather than drilling into the ground, so there was thought to be only a minimal chance of a leak.
However BP made a similar assessment that there was no oil in the water after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank, killing 11 men, on April 20.
The events came as BP began removing a cap from its damaged Gulf of Mexico oil well in preparation for a final attempt to plug it this month.