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Coast Guard: Crew Loses Control of Natural Gas Well, Sheen in the Gulf

Updated 9:50 p.m.

Natural gas is flowing into the Gulf of Mexico from an oil and natural gas production platform off the coast of Plaquemines Parish, where the U.S. Coast Guard says a crew lost control of a well on Tuesday. Crew was safely evacuated after the well was unable to be brought back under control, according to the Coast Guard.


The well, located 74 miles southwest of Port Fourchon, is owned Energy Resource Technology Gulf of Mexico LLC, who reported the incident. Workers were looking to temporary plug the well when they lost control of the well, according to the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard could not confirm how many workers were evacuated.


The cause of the event has yet to be determined, the Coast Guard said.


ERT is "actively working to plug the well," according to Jonathan Lally, spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard's 8th District. Lally did not have information on when the well might be plugged.


Two other wells were actively producing on the same platform, but were shut-in following the incident.


Coast Guard conducted an overflight, and found a rainbow sheen about 4 miles wide by 3/4 of a mile long coming from the platform. No details about a response plan to the pollution, or a plan to stop the well were immediately available from the Coast Guard.


UPDATE: 5 Workers Evacuated, Old Tubing Blamed


The crew were working to shut-in the well when they noticed natural gas in the water, according to a statement released Tuesday by ERT owners Talos Energy. The company suspects old tubing was to blame for the well, which was not producing at the time of the accident.


ERT evacuated five workers in all from the platform, according to the statement.


The company expects the well to be shut-in within 24 hours, and has contracted with Wild Well Control to stanch the flow, according to the statement.


The well lies in a field first developed in the 1970s, and last produced in 1998, according to Talos.


"We were plugging and abandoning the well as part of our active idle iron removal program in coordination with the BSEE, and we believe that the age of the tubing may have contributed to the incident," the company said in the statement.


The company estimated a total of six barrels have been discharged, and Talos said they expect the sheen on the water to "evaporate quickly." The natural gas is coming from the well at "very low pressure," the company said.



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