Broken pipeline found by divers in search for Gulf oil spill

A broken pipeline is believed to be the source of an ongoing oil spill which appeared in the Gulf of Mexico after Hurricane Ida.

Divers identified the apparent source as a one-foot diameter pipeline which had been displaced from a trench on the ocean floor and had broken open.

There is not yet any estimate for how much pollution has been caused by the oil, but recent satellite images appeared to show the slick drifting across more than 12 miles (19km) along the Gulf coast.

Aerial images showed a miles-long brown and black oil slick spreading south of Port Fourchon, Louisiana.

Talos Energy, the Houston-based company currently paying to clean up the oil, said the pipeline did not belong to them.

The company said it was working with the US Coast Guard and other state and federal agencies to coordinate the response to the discovery of the source and identify the owner of the ruptured pipeline.

Two additional open four-inch pipelines were also identified in the area, but have apparently been abandoned.

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The company’s statement did not make clear if oil was leaking from the two smaller pipelines.

Talos said the rate of oil appearing on the surface had slowed dramatically in the last 48 hours and no new heavy black crude had been seen in the last day.

So far, the growing spill appears to have remained out to sea and has not impacted the Louisiana shoreline.

Coast Guard response teams have been monitoring reports and satellite imagery to determine the scope of the discharge, which is located in the Bay Marchand, Block 4 area of the Gulf of Mexico.

An aerial image shows the oil spill south of Port Fourchon, Louisiana. Pic: AP/ Maxar
Image:A satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies showing the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Pic: AP/Maxar

Talos previously leased Block 5, but ceased production there in 2017, plugged its wells and removed all pipeline infrastructure by 2019, according to the company.

With the source of the oil unclear, Talos hired Clean Gulf Associates to respond to the spill.

Clean Gulf, a non-profit oil-spill response cooperative that works with the energy exploration and production industry, has two 95-foot vessels at the scene of the spill attempting to contain and recover crude from the water.

The Bay Marchand spill is one of dozens of reported environmental hazards the state and federal regulators are tracking in Louisiana and the Gulf following the category four hurricane that made landfall at Port Fourchon a week ago.

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Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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