Oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico after Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana, in Grand Isle, Louisiana, U.S. August 31, 2021.

Oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico after Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana, in Grand Isle, Louisiana, U.S. August 31, 2021. REUTERS/Marco Bello/File Photo

Miles-Long Gulf Oil Spill Investigated by Coast Guard

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September 5, 2021

By Ari Natter (Bloomberg) –Federal authorities are responding to a 14-mile long oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico discovered in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, officials said Saturday.

The spill, which consists of a 4-mile black sheen and a 10-mile rainbow sheen, is located in federal waters off Port Fourchon, Louisiana, said Sam Jones, head of the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator’s Office.

“That’s big,” Jones said in an interview on Saturday. “It’s the biggest one out there.” 

The crude is believed to be coming from a pipeline owned by Houston-based oil and gas exploration company Talos Energy Inc., the Coast Guard said in a statement, adding the agency was in the preliminary stages of investigation. 

Talos Energy said it’s leading a response to the spill, which it said was coming from an unknown source in an area where it ceased production in 2017. 

“Extensive field observations indicate that Talos assets are not the source,” the company said in a statement. “Talos will continue to work closely with the U.S. Coast Guard and other state and federal agencies to identify the source of the release and coordinate a successful response.”

Talos said it deployed two 95-foot response vessels to conduct oil recovery operations at the site as well as an additional vessel and divers to help locate the source. The spill was reported earlier by the New York Times. 

Jones said his agency had received 265 reports of spills and other incidents related to Ida, including 32 that appeared to be serious. Among them were two underwater pipelines, apparently transporting gas, and a gas well that blew in Three Bayou Bay in Jefferson Parish. The agency is investigating who owns those assets, Jones said. 

Toxic Releases

Multiple releases of crude have been reported in the Gulf of Mexico, including one near an offshore rig in the gulf, according to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

The agency has reported more than 100 incidents of spills and other toxic releases as Ida’s environmental impact in a petrochemical corridor packed with hazardous-chemical plants and refineries begins to become apparent. 

“The type of accident we are seeing is preventable and shouldn’t be allowed to happen,” said Naomi Yoder, a staff scientist at Healthy Gulf, a New Orleans-based environmental group that has reported several spills to authorities in the wake of Ida. “Is it something we are going to be able to repair or is it something that will be a very long-term process?” 

Hurricane Ivan in 2004 triggered an underwater oil spill that is still leaking, Yoder said.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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