An oil and gas platform well in the Gulf of Mexico has lost containment and is leaking natural gas, the Coast Guard said.
Early Tuesday, the Coast Guard and the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement received a report from the owners of the natural gas and crude oil platform that workers had lost control of a well, Coast Guard spokesman Jonathan Lally told NBC News.
“It is actively leaking natural gas,” Lally said, adding that all workers had been safely evacuated and none were injured.
The well, about 74 miles off Port Fourchon, La., is owned by Energy Resources Technology Gulf of Mexico, a subsidiary of Talos Energy.
According to the company's site assessment, “there is a rainbow sheen visible on the surface estimated to be more than four miles wide by three quarters of a mile long.”
Talos Energy President Timothy Duncan issued a statement late Tuesday saying workers were trying to plug and abandon the nonproducing well when “salt water containing a small amount of gas and light condensate began to flow to the surface and around the wellhead.”
He said the platform was evacuated and authorities were notified in “an abundance of caution.”
“We expect that the well will be shut in within the next 24 hours,” he said.
Duncan said that the well is an older one in a field developed in the 1970's, he said, and that the age of the tubing may have contributed to the incident.
“We believe that approximately six barrels of light condensate have been discharged in the last 24 hours, based upon the four mile wide by three quarter mile long sheen as reported by the BSEE and the U.S. Coast Guard.”
A spokesperson for the federal bureau told NBC News that this type of leak was known to happen a few times a year. No oil is being released into the water, according to the spokesperson, saying “the situation is under control.”
Crews from the Coast Guard, the bureau and the company were responding to the incident at Ship Shoal Block 225, Platform B.
According to the Coast Guard, work to temporarily plug Well B2 was under way when workers became aware of the “well control event.” Two other operating wells on Platform B were shut down after the incident.
Coast Guard and the bureau will investigate the cause of the incident, according to a Coast Guard news release.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement was established in 2011 in the wake of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
First published July 9 2013, 6:44 PM