Yet another oil spill is polluting the Gulf of Mexico; this time, coming from a leaking Royal Dutch Shell pipeline, reports the Huffington Post. This most recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill was reportedly spotted on May 12 by a Shell helicopter flying over the area and has resulted in the company shutting down all wells that flow to its Brutus platform. It is the Brutus platform that the company believes to be the source of the oil spill, most likely from the platform’s “subsea infrastructure.”
According to a Shell spokesman, Curtis Smith, the platform is no longer leaking, and the wells in leading to the Brutus platform were “under control” following the discovery of the leak.
“There are no drilling activities at Brutus, and this is not a well control incident.”
In total, it is believed that the Brutus platform leak allowed 88,200 gallons or roughly 2,100 barrels of oil to spill into the Gulf of Mexico. The Brutus platform sits at a depth of 2,988 feet, and Shell is still investigating the exact cause of last week’s Gulf oil spill by checking out its underwater equipment and flowlines. The leaking platform has been operating in the Gulf of Mexico since 2001, and according to trade industry publications, Brutus has a maximum operating capacity of 100,000 barrels of oil and 150 million cubic feet of natural gas daily.
According to U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) reports, the oil sheen visible in the Gulf of Mexico measured two miles by 13 miles and was located about 100 miles off of the coast of Louisiana in the Glider Field area.
Louisiana is no stranger to devastating Gulf of Mexico oil spills, bearing the brunt of the 2010 BP oil spill disaster. During the 2010 Gulf oil spill, also known as the “Deepwater Horizon” spill, BP’s Plc Macondo well dumped more than 3 million barrels into the Gulf of Mexico. It was the largest, most disastrous oil spill in U.S. history. The 2010 Gulf oil spill decimated the local environment and economies, which are largely dependent upon fishing and shrimping. Many Gulf Coast areas are still recovering from the unprecedented devastation.
Since the 2010 disaster, the BSEE has tightened federal regulations pertaining to offshore oil drilling operations, but some believe that tightening regulations isn’t enough to prevent mass devastation from offshore oil drilling, and this most recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill seems to be illustrating that point. With the 2016 primary election season in full swing, it’s not surprising that political candidates are jumping on this disaster to drive home their political platforms. Notably, Bernie Sanders took to Twitter to use the oil spill to further his presidential agenda.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) May 13, 2016
Sanders’ tweet underscored his desire to ban offshore drilling altogether, and it got a lot of attention from both sides of the argument after it was tweeted.
— T (@tcsorr) May 13, 2016
— Zero Tolerance (@scotchibear999) May 14, 2016
While it seems unlikely that a complete offshore drilling ban is likely in the foreseeable future, regardless of who’s elected president, this latest Gulf of Mexico oil spill does underscore the risks associated with the industry and once again brings the sustainability of the practice into the public spotlight. For the Gulf residents, wildlife and ecosystems, the dangers of offshore oil drilling have once again hit way too close to home to be ignored. Even many of those not in the immediate vicinity of the spill will be negatively impacted in the long-term.
@3tags_org this means it will be working it's way up the East Coast all summer/Fall till winter
— .Gloria Rangott (@gloriarangott1) May 14, 2016
There is some silver lining to Thursday’s massive oil leak; according to Shell, no one was (directly) injured as a result. The company says it will be mobilizing vehicles, including air and watercraft, to directly and thoroughly investigate the spill and to see if any of the oil currently floating in the Gulf of Mexico can be recovered.
[Image Courtesy Of Eric Gay/AP Images]