Coast Guard Responds to Well Leak in Gulf

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The U.S. Coast Guard on Tuesday said it was responding to a leak from a natural gas and crude oil platform owned by Energy Resource Technology in the Gulf of Mexico.

Talos Energy President Timothy Duncan was quoted by the Houston Chronicle blog Tuesday as saying the well, 74 miles off the Louisiana coast, has been inactive for 15 years and was in the process of being abandoned. Talos is the parent of Energy Resource Technology.

Duncan, in the news report, was quoted as saying the age of the tubing may have contributed to the incident, and that the company was doing everything possible to get the well under control. He expected the well to be under control within 24 hours.

In its statement, the Coast Guard said according to ERT's site assessment, natural gas is flowing from the well and 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, later in a press release, said it anticipates the sheen will evaporate quickly because the well is flowing mostly water at very low pressure. The company said it expects that approximately six barrels of light condensate have been discharged in the last 24 hours.

"In an abundance of caution, we decided to evacuate the platform and mobilize our spill response team," Duncan was quoted as saying. "We are focused on the safety of our personnel while taking all appropriate measures to limit any environmental impact."

The initial headlines about the well leak appeared on news wires, at around 4:30 p.m. ET, and contained few details. The headlines contributed to a move in the price of oil, which was also going higher on reports of a 9 million barrel drop in crude oil supply, reported by API at around the same time. West Texas Intermediate moved above $104 per barrel in electronic trading.

The Coast Guard reported that work to temporarily plug Well B2 in Ship Shoal Block 225 Platform B, was ongoing and two other wells on Platform B that were producing at the time were subsequently shut-in.

All platform personnel were safely evacuated, the Coast Guard said in a note.