Shell has said it has begun work to repair a fault in a flowline that has resulted in around 2,000 barrels worth of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico.
More than 88,000 gallons of oily-water mixture has been released from the Glider Field, a group of four underwater oil wells located around 97 miles south of Port Fourchon in Louisiana. The company said it suspects a line connecting these wells to a Shell platform leaked oil on Thursday, creating a 13 mile-wide slick on the surface of the water.
Shell said the oil is not expected to reach the shoreline and that no fisheries have been closed. The company said vessels and aircraft have been deployed to mop up the spill.
“The trajectory is in a westerly direction with no shoreline impacts anticipated at this time,” Shell said in a statement.
“Skimming continued today using infrared technology with support from aerial resources. Joint efforts have recovered approximately 1,826 barrels, over 76,600 gallons, of oily-water mixture. On-water recovery efforts are ongoing. Shell has mobilized equipment to begin repairs.”
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said it has deployed its “full investigative resources” to identify the cause of the oil spill and any potential improvements needed to underwater infrastructure.
Shell’s platform, called Brutus, started operation in 2001. The oil giant has been given permission by the BSEE to resume its operations in the gulf.
The US federal government has tightened up drilling regulations following the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010, which resulted in the deaths of 11 people, as well as the coating of thousands of seabirds and marine animals in oil.
Last month, the Obama administration outlined further measures to help prevent “blowouts” that result in oil spells, as well as requirements for operators to put in place several back-ups in case something goes wrong.
However, there have been criticism of government and oil industry response to the 2010 disaster. A US Chemical Safety Board report released last month found regulations nor industry practices have improved since the BP spill.
“The last thing the Gulf of Mexico needs is another oil spill,” said Vicky Wyatt, a Greenpeace campaigner. “The oil and gas industry’s business-as-usual mentality devastates communities, the environment, and our climate. Make no mistake, the more fossil fuel infrastructure we have, the more spills and leaks we’ll see. It’s past time to keep it in the ground for good.”
This article was written by Oliver Milman in New York, for theguardian.com on Monday 16th May 2016 18.09 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010