The Coast Guard responded to an oil spill off the Louisiana coast on Wednesday after a boat hit a wellhead, causing it to leak.
The wellhead, owned by Swift Energy, has been inactive since December 2007. the wellhead has been spewing oily water into the marshland south of New Orleans since the incident occurred.
The Coast Guard announced that the accident occurred Tuesday night when the 42-foot crew boat named the Sea Raider hit the wellhead.
ABC News reports that the contact compromised the wellhead, which started spewing oil and water. Swift Energy is believed to also own the boat involved.
Swift has contracted a cleanup company to help remove the oil from the marshland. After the area is cleared by the contract company, the Coast Guard will move in and assess what exactly is flowing out of the wellhead and how much.
Swift’s inactive wellhead is located about nine miles southwest of Port Sulphur, notes Fox News. Company President Bruce Vincent stated that the wellhead is ringed with a containment boom that will prevent the majority of the oil from reaching the shore.
There is another containment boom set up along the shore, while two skimmer boats are working to clean up the mess. Crew started ringing the wellhead shortly after the spill on Tuesday night.
It appears that only a small amount of oil appears to have escaped. Vincent added that the well was closed off about five years ago and an operation to permanently plug it was expected later this year. He explained:
“We don’t know the exact rate of flow right now but would estimate it to be small. It flows for a while, then stops flowing until it builds up some pressure and flows again.”
The well causing the oil spill off the Louisiana coast was closed off because it was a weak producer. There is no word on how long it will take to block the well and finish cleaning it up.