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2. OFFSHORE

2nd Gulf rig blowout spurs calls to speed up safety rules

HOUSTON -- The partially collapsed Hercules Offshore natural gas drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico continued burning late yesterday, as response crews struggled to regain control. The accident, the second major one to occur in the Gulf of Mexico this month, is already leading to calls for new government scrutiny of offshore oil and gas drillers and the reliability of blowout preventers, equipment designed to prevent spills. The loss of well control comes some two weeks after a different installation lost control of another well, releasing gas and condensates into the environment.

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