E&E: Gas still seeping from busted Gulf well

Nathanial Gronewold, E&E reporter
Published: Friday, July 12, 2013

HOUSTON — A crew continued to try to regain control of a busted offshore natural gas well in the Gulf of Mexico last night after the federal government approved an intervention plan.

Late yesterday afternoon, officials at Energy Resources Technology LLC (ERT) began pumping drilling mud into the stricken shallow-water well in an attempt to stop the out-of-control flow of natural gas. The company lost control of the well, one of three on the offshore platform, during work aimed at temporarily plugging it.

Aside from the gas leak, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the U.S. Coast Guard reported a 4-mile-wide sheen on the surface of the waters surrounding the well when the accident occurred Tuesday. BSEE spokeswoman Eileen Angelico said the sheen was caused by a small volume of associated condensates released with the gas when the crew lost control of the well.

The agencies said that about 3.6 barrels of light condensate was leaking from the site every 24 hours. “The well is flowing gas, so it’s gas, water and condensate,” Angelico said.

As of late last night, there was no word on whether the ERT crew had been able to stop the gas leak with the drilling mud operation. The government says the company’s plan was formally approved after a review, and BSEE and the Coast Guard are monitoring the entire operation from a neighboring platform.

“Procedures for the source control operations were prepared by ERT and reviewed and approved by BSEE,” the agency said in its most recent notice on the situation. “Once confirmation of the successful well kill operation is received, BSEE will review ERT’s plan for plugging the well.”

The platform where the accident occurred rests atop the Ship Shoal Block, and offshore concession about 70 miles south of Port Fourchon, La. The small, mostly gas production operation sits in about 146 feet of water.

Special thanks to Richard Charter

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