The government has announced it will conduct a "full investigation" of a fire on an oil and gas platform in the Gulf of Mexico, which sparked fears Thursday of a second catastrophic spill in the region just weeks after the BP Deepwater Horizon leak was finally plugged. Fortunately, no leak occurred at the Mariner Energy facility and all 13 workers on board were rescued safely. Will this latest incident renew the push for tighter regulations on offshore drilling? (Watch a briefing on the fire)
This is more proof that the risks are too high: Thursday's explosion was hardly a surprise, says Kieran Suckling of the Center for Biological Diversity, quoted in the Los Angeles Times. "Offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is like playing Russian roulette" — another disaster is inevitable. Washington must renew the push for more drilling limits or prepare for another catastrophe on the scale of the BP gusher.
"Gulf oil: New explosion boosts support for moratorium"
Actually, this fire has nothing to do with the deep-water drilling debate: This is far from "BP, part two," says Megan Friedman at Time. The Mariner Energy platform is in shallow water and handles existing wells, so it's more stable than a drilling rig like BP's Deepwater Horizon. With so many Gulf region jobs "hanging in the balance," it would be wrong to use this fire to support the drilling moratorium President Obama imposed after BP's blowout.
"Calm down people: Factchecking Thursday's oil fire in the Gulf"
Nevertheless, this weakens the oil industry's case for deregulation: The timing of the fire couldn't have been worse for the oil industry, say Steven Mufson and David A. Fahrenthold in The Washington Post. The BP disaster was finally fading from the headlines, and oil companies like Mariner were beginning to protest the moratorium. But this accident restates the case for cracking down on the energy industry. Tougher oil regulations are now a certainty.
"Oil and gas platform in Gulf of Mexico catches fire"