Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
Shell forced to shut wells after 2000 barrels of oil leaked from its Brutus platform
Yesterday it was reported by Reuters that a 2,100-barrel oil spill in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico had forced Royal Dutch Shell to shut all wells that flow to its Brutus platform.
According to the article, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) said a 2 mile by 13 mile (about 3km by 21km) oil slick was visible in the sea about 97 miles off the Louisiana coast.
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This sheen, an oil and water mixture, was discovered near Shell's Glider Field, a group of four underwater oil wells, whose production flows to the Brutus platform.
In a statement, Shell spokesman Curtis Smith claims that they spotted the sheen from a company helicopter and managed to isolate the leak.
"There are no drilling activities at Brutus, and this is not a well control incident," Shell said.
Likely causes of the spill
Reuters reported that the Brutus platform had begun operation in 2001 and was designed for a top capacity of 100,000 barrels of oil and 150 million cubic feet (4.25 million cubic meters) of gas per day.
Shell said the sheen likely came from a release of oil from subsea infrastructure, though it is still determining the exact cause of the release by inspecting subsea equipment and flowlines.
Authorities said the cause of the incident is under investigation.
BSEE has tightened regulations for offshore operators since the 2010 BP Plc Macondo well blowout that spilled more than 3 million barrels of oil, making it the worst disaster of its kind in U.S. history.
Shell said no injuries resulted from the incident, claimed that the oil is not expected to reach land and has 'mobilised response vessels' to help clean up the spill.
Further reading: Our corporate profile on Shell looks back at the company's controversial environmental record.
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