Coast Guard, Shell wrap up skimming of Gulf of Mexico oil spill

U.S. Cost Guard and Shell have wrapped up their oil spill skimming operations, conducted following last week’s discharge of 2,100 barrels (88,200 gallons) at the Glider field in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to the Coast Guard, the skimming has been concluded due to no visible recoverable oil being found by either aerial or surface assets.

The Glider Field, located approximately 97 miles south of Port Fourchon, LA, includes subsea wells and the field’s production flows to the Brutus Platform.

The joint response mobilized more than 150 people, five on-water recovery vessels for skimming, and aerial assets to respond to the sheen. According to Shell, approximately 2,012 barrels (more than 84,000 gallons) of an oil-water mixture was recovered.

One vessel will remain in the area to assess potential environmental impacts from the release, Shell said, adding that there have been no reported impacts to the coastline or fisheries.

The nearby Brutus tension-leg platform has resumed production from Shell’s unaffected direct vertical access wells; Glider and other subsea fields remain shut-in. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) approved Shell’s plans to remove and secure the damaged segment of the subsea flow line at Glider, and work is underway, Shell added.

In a separate statement, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said it was continuing its investigation of the oil release.

BSEE Gulf of Mexico Regional Director Lars Herbst formally established an Investigative Panel May 16. The seven-member panel is comprised of BSEE engineers, inspectors, and investigators.

The panel will conduct a thorough investigation of the incident in order to identify the causes and any contributing issues that led to the release. The panel will make recommendations in its final report on how to strengthen existing safety and environmental management systems, and identify any reforms to existing regulations that may be needed, BSEE said.

Production remains shut-in from the two subsea fields that flow to the Brutus platform. BSEE said it would not approve production restart of these subsea fields until all safety concerns and applicable regulations have been met.

Keep it in the ground

Last weekend in Washington, more than a thousand people gathered in front of the White House and marched to the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool to call on the Obama administration to stop offshore drilling.

They called President Obama to keep the Arctic and Atlantic oceans out of not just this 5-year program but all future ones, “and to end the treatment of the Gulf coast as a sacrifice zone by halting all new oil and gas leases in the region and ensuring a just transition to clean energy.”

Marissa Knodel, Climate Campaigner, Friends of the Earth: “The seas are rising and so are the people. While past oil disasters still haunt the Arctic and Gulf Coast, Shell spilled another 90,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf this week. We can no longer treat our oceans and coastlines as energy sacrifice zones. No more excuses, no new offshore leases. The time to break free from fossil fuels and keep them in the ground is now.”

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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