Offshore oil platform explodes in Gulf of Mexico

An offshore platform in the Gulf of Mexico exploded on Thursday but company and federal records show it appears to be producing natural gas, not oil.

The U.S. Coast Guard reported that it accounted for all 13 people aboard the rig, which is west of BP's blown-out well but operates in much shallower water than the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon was drilling.

Quoting a Coast Guard officer, the New Orleans Times-Picayune identified the rig as Vermilion 380, a platform owned by Houston-based Mariner Energy. The company had not yet issued a statement on the accident and an employee reached at its headquarters referred questions to an executive.

According to a 2010 company financial statement, the rig has five wells and produced about 1.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas and liquid natural gas last year but was not currently pumping any oil -- though Mariner estimates the field does have petroleum reserves.

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