Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill May Be Biggest Since 2010

File photo shows operations to mitigate the effects of the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo taken May 23, 2010. U.S. Coast Guard photo

BSEE Gulf of Mexico Region Director Lars Herbst on Monday initiated a Panel Investigation Monday into an oil release from subsea infrastructure located about 40 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana in water 4,463 feet deep. The five-member panel is made up of inspectors, engineers and accident investigators, who will issue a report containing findings, recommendations and any potential violations for consideration. 

By Nico Grant (Bloomberg) — An oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last week may be the largest in the U.S. since the 2010 blowout at BP Plc’s Macondo well that sank the Deepwater Horizon rig.

The Delta House floating production facility about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southeast of Venice, Louisiana, released 7,950 to 9,350 barrels of oil Oct. 13, according to closely held operator LLOG Exploration Co. That would make it the largest spill in more than seven years, data from the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement show, even though it’s a fraction of the millions of barrels ejected in the 2010 incident.

The LLOG spill was triggered by a fracture in a flowline jumper, Rick Fowler, the company’s vice president for deepwater projects, said in an email. That’s a short pipeline used to connect nearby subsea structures. Multiple barriers placed on either side of the fracture stopped the release, but the the flowline jumper hasn’t yet been repaired, Fowler said.

Oil production from Delta House dropped to around 57,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day from more than 90,000 before the spill, he said. The subsea system affected by the fracture was shut in, though nearby connected systems weren’t. The fracture wasn’t caused by Hurricane Nate and there were no associated injuries, he said.

BSEE, the federal agency which regulates offshore energy and mineral extraction, started an investigation into the cause of the spill, Karla Marshall, a spokeswoman, said by telephone.

The 2010 blowout and explosion at the Deepwater Horizon ultradeep-sea drilling rig off the coast of Louisiana left 11 workers dead and set off the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. BSEE, an agency of the Interior Department, was established in the wake of the incident as part of reforms designed to separate federal regulatory responsibilities from lease sales and revenue generation.

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