A Shell Oil rig drilling in deepwater spilled over 13,000 gallons of toxic oil and drilling fluids into the Gulf of Mexico earlier this week. The area where the Nautilus was drilling is only about 20 miles from the site of the BP oil spill.
Shell’s Deepwater Nautilus was drilling an exploratory well in about 7,000 feet of water on Sunday when drilling fluid and oil began leaking from a booster line. The rig is owned and operated by Transocean, the same company that was operating the BP Deepwater Horizon when it exploded and sank in early 2010, causing the worst environmental disaster in American history.
While a report Shell filed Monday morning with the National Response Center states that the company spilled 7,560 gallons of oil and 5,829 gallons of synthetic drilling fluids, company spokesperson Kelly op de Weegh said late Monday afternoon that no oil was spilled.
The National Response Center report lists “equipment failure” as the cause of the spill. The report states that the release was caused by “a leak in the boost line,” and describes the fluid spilled as a mix of drilling mud and “base oil.”
The Shell spill occurred just days after the Obama administration gave Royal Dutch Shell the green light to drill in the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea beginning next summer – despite the fact that there is no proven way to clean up an oil spill in the Arctic’s extreme conditions and there is significant dearth of scientific information, making it impossible to understand the impacts of Shell’s activities.
Image Credit: Flickr – lautenbach