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Royal Dutch Shell has shut down four wells feeding into an underwater pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico off the state of Louisiana following a spill that has released some 2,100-barrels of crude oil—close to 90,000 gallons-- into the water.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, a branch of the US Interior Department which regulates offshore oil activity, said the oil sheen was 2 miles by 13 miles.
The oil extracted by the four wells flows through an underwater pipeline that leads to Shell’s Brutus platform.
Shell says the leak has now been contained and a clean-up operation is under way.
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"The likely cause of the sheen is a release of oil from subsea infrastructure and in response, we have isolated the leak and shut-in production," the company said in a statement. "No release is acceptable, and safety remains our highest priority as we respond to this incident," it further said, adding no injuries were reported.
The incident is also investigated by the Coast Guard and federal offshore safety inspectors who flew over the area to assess it and are currently on location at the platform. The cause of the incident is still being investigated, they said.
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The Brutus platform has been operational since 2001 and has a capacity of 100,000 barrels per day of oil and 150 million cubic feet per day of natural gas.
In 2010, a BP oil drilling site burst, releasing three million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The incident, which also resulted in 11 dead, dispersed oil on a surface which spanned a whopping 175,000 square kilometers. In July 2015, BP agreed to pay $18.7 billion in fines, the largest corporate settlement in U.S. history.
By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com