HOUSTON -- Thursday's Mariner Platform fire in the Gulf came less than five months after the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
However, besides the fact that both incidents invovled fire, there weren't too many similarities between the events.
"Production facilities are a lot less dangerous and the reason being is because you don't have the need to put a pipe in the hole," said Dr. Don Van Neiuwenhuise, who runs the Petroleum Geosciences program at the University of Houston.
The Deepwater Horizon was drilling thousands of feet below the ocean surface looking for oil. The Mariner Platform produces oil and gas from a number of wells beneath the sea, but in much shallower waters.
"This wasn't a blowout. There doesn’t appear to be a spill. And there doesn't appear to be any injuries," said Mariner Energy spokesperson Patrick Cassidy. "That's our priority. Taking care of our people, taking care of our facilities, and taking care of the environment where we work."
Jumping to safety was the only option for 13 workers on the platform, who waited two hours before help arrived.
Ships doused the platform with water for about four hours while they attempted to put the flames out.
"But I don't know to what extent the facility has been damaged or we still don't know what may have caused this fire," Cassidy said.
In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, there is plenty of debate about oil drilling and production in the Gulf. Some might take Thursday's incident as reason to believe all oil production and drilling is unsafe.
Van Neiuwenhuise knows what the industry will say about that.
"We did not have a leak. We did not have a blowout. The people were able to evacuate, no one was hurt and all of the safety procedures needed to happen and take place did," Van Neiuwenhuise said.
Within an hour of that statement, however, the Coast Guard reported a mile-long oil sheen could be seen from the air. With the fire still burning, they couldn't determine if the sheen came from leaking production lines or oil stored on the platform.
The Mariner Platform produces an average of 1,400 barrels of oil and 9.2 million cubic feet of natural gas a day. But on Thursday, the most important number was 13, the number of people who made it out alive.