Divers at the site of an ongoing oil spill that appeared in the Gulf of Mexico after Hurricane Ida identified the apparent source as a one foot diameter pipeline moved from a trench at the bottom of the sea. ‘ocean and broken.
Talos Energy, the Houston-based company that is currently paying for the cleanup, said in a statement on Sunday evening that the broken pipeline did not belong to them.
The company said it was working with the U.S. Coast Guard and other state and federal agencies to coordinate the response and identify the owner of the ruptured pipeline.
U.S. offshore oil production lags as Louisiana refiners restart after Hurricane Ida
Two other 4-inch pipelines have also been identified in the area which are open and apparently abandoned. The company’s statement was not clear whether oil was leaking from the two smaller pipelines, but satellite images examined by The Associated Press on Saturday appeared to show at least three different slicks in the same area, with the larger one drifting over more than ‘a dozen miles (over 19 kilometers) east along the Gulf Coast.
The AP first reported on Wednesday that aerial photos showed a brown and black oil slick several miles long stretching about two miles south of Port Fourchon, Louisiana. The broken pipe is in relatively shallow water, about 34 feet (10 meters) deep.
Talos said the rate of oil appearing to the surface has slowed significantly over the past 48 hours and no new heavy black crude has been seen in the past day.
So far, the spill appears to have remained at sea and has not impacted the Louisiana coastline. There is no estimate yet for the amount of oil in the water.
The Coast Guard said on Saturday its response teams were monitoring reports and satellite imagery to determine the extent of the release, which is located at Bay Marchand, Block 4. Talos had previously leased Bay Marchand, Block 5, but has ceased production in 2017, plugged its well and removed all pipeline infrastructure by 2019, according to the company.
The area where the spill is located has been drilled for oil and gas for decades. Federal rental maps show it contains a trellis of old pipelines, plugged wells and abandoned rigs, as well as newer infrastructure still in use.
With the source of the oil unclear, Talos hired Clean Gulf Associates to respond to the spill. Clean Gulf, a non-profit oil spill response cooperative that works with the exploration and power generation industry, has had two 95-foot vessels at the spill scene since Wednesday in an attempt to contain and recover the crude from the water.
The Bay Marchand spill is one of dozens of reported environmental hazards that federal and state regulators are tracking in Louisiana and the Gulf in the wake of the Category 4 hurricane that made landfall in Port Fourchon a week ago . The region is a major production center for the US petrochemical industry.
The PA also first reported on Wednesday images from a National Atmospheric and Oceanic Survey showing significant flooding and what appeared to be oil in the water at the sprawling Phillips 66 Alliance refinery located along the river. Mississippi south of New Orleans.
After the photos were released by AP, the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday tasked a specially equipped investigative aircraft to fly over the refinery, as well as other industrial sites in the region hardest hit by the 240 km / h winds. and the storm surge from the hurricane. .
The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality said a state assessment team sent to the Alliance refinery observed a heavy oil spill treated with booms and buffers. absorbents. A dike meant to protect the plant had broken, allowing floodwaters to drain during the storm, and then back up again as the surge subsided.
State environmental officials said there was also no estimate yet available of how much oil might have spilled from the Phillips 66 refinery.