Gulf of Mexico oil spill could be biggest since 2010

An oil release from subsea infrastructure located about 40m southeast of Venice, Louisiana, in water 4,463 feet deep, could be the most serious spill in the GoM since Deepwater Horizon in 2010, warned BSEE Gulf of Mexico Region Director Lars Herbst on Monday. A five-member panel investigation comprising inspectors, engineers and accident investigators, will issue a report containing findings, recommendations and any potential violations for consideration, reports Bloomberg.

The Delta House floating production facility released between 7,950 and 9,350 barrels of oil on Friday October 13th, according to operator LLOG Exploration Co. Although only a small fraction of the millions of barrels leaked from the Macondo oil filed after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, it is still the most significant pollution event in the Gulf of Mexico since that date..

The LLOG spill was triggered by a fracture in a flowline jumper – short pipeline used to connect nearby subsea structures – according to LLOG vice president for deepwater projects Rick Fowler. Multiple barriers placed on either side of the fracture stopped the release, but the flowline jumper had not yet been repaired, Fowler said.

Oil production from Delta House dropped to around 57,000 bpd from more than 90,000 bpd 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, an agency of the Interior Department, was established in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon incident as part of reforms designed to separate federal regulatory responsibilities from lease sales and revenue generation.