* Inspectors confirm safety valves to wells shut
* Mariner shares close up nearly 2 percent
* Mariner fire an "industrial accident"-Salazar
(Recasts, adds government inspectors don't find leaking oil)
By Bruce Nichols
HOUSTON, Sept 3 U.S. government inspectors
found no leaking oil at Mariner Energy Inc's ME.N burned
platform in the Gulf of Mexico, officials said late on Friday,
allaying fears about more environmental damage after BP's
"Inspectors have reported no sign of pollution," the
Interior Department said after government experts checked out
the platform for several hours on Friday.
The inspectors confirmed that the safety valves were shut
going to the platform's oil and natural wells, pipelines were
closed and the platform's tanks and pumps "are secure," the
On Thursday, Mariner's platform burst into flames. The
accident follows BP Plc's (BP.L) (BP.N) disastrous Macondo well
rupture on April 20 which caused the death of 11 workers and
unleashed the world's worst offshore oil spill.
A light oil sheen had been spotted earlier near Mariner's
offshore facility, but was thought to be related to Thursday's
efforts to extinguish the fire, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
The cause of the fire, which forced the evacuation of the
oil and gas production platform's 13-member crew, is not yet
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told reporters in Anchorage
on Friday the Mariner fire appeared to be "another industrial
accident," and was not comparable to the BP spill.
Even so, the U.S. government promised a vigorous probe.
"We will use all available resources to ensure that we find
out what happened, how it happened, and what enforcement action
should be taken if any laws or regulations were violated," said
Michael Bromwich, director of the department's Bureau of Ocean
Energy Management that oversees offshore drilling.
Take a Look on Mariner platform fire [ID:nN02243726]
Graphic showing location of Mariner platform
Factbox on comparisons between Mariner and BP accidents
Reuters Insider video on Coast Guard finding no leak
The platform is located about 100 miles (160 km) south of
Vermilion, Louisiana, in shallow water. The facility is not
affected by the U.S. government's six-month deepwater drilling
moratorium, which only applies to rigs, not production
Automated shut-off equipment turned off the flow of oil and
gas from the platform's seven producing wells, according to the
The fire was the fifth reported at offshore sites operated
by Mariner since October 2006, according to government data.
None of the earlier fires caused fatalities, although
workers were injured in two of the accidents. The company also
suffered a blowout while drilling a well about 90 miles (145
km) off the Louisiana coast in May 2008, but the situation was
brought under control within a few hours.
The Vermilion platform was last inspected in January and
was found to have three minor compliance violations, government
Shares of Mariner closed nearly 2 percent higher at $23.16
on the New York Stock Exchange.
(Additional reporting by Kristen Hays in Houston, Yereth Rosen
in Anchorage and Tom Doggett in Washington, D.C.; Writing by
Anna Driver; Editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid and Lincoln Feast)