C: Jonathan Henderson
C: Jonathan Henderson

Oil giant Shell is still struggling to clean up an estimated 90,000 gallons of oil spilt in to the Gulf of Mexico last Thursday.

This latest spill has led to increased calls by local residents on President Obama not to open additional leases in the next Five Year Plan for the Gulf.

It is also likely to be a cause of questioning at the company’s AGM next week in the Hague.

The oil spill started last Thursday, some 90 miles south of Timbalier Island, off the Louisiana coast. The source of the leak was traced to an underground pipeline that connects four subsea oil wells to the Brutus platform, which floats on top of the water with a depth of 2,900 feet.

It is part of the Glider Field, which lies some 165 miles south-southwest of New Orleans. Production has been closed there due to the spill.

Last Friday, the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which regulates the offshore oil industry, said the oil sheen was 2 miles by 13 miles. The environmental Group, Vanishing Earth, which flew over the site on Friday, said the spill was at least the same size, equivilent to the area of Manhattan, though the slick had spread further to the North and West.

Shell has begun a clean-up, although the best way to clean up oil is of course never to spill it in the first instance. So far the oil company has recovered some 76,000 gallons of oily-water, although how much of that is oil and how much is water is unclear.

The good news for Shell is that hopefully the slick will not hit the shore. “The trajectory is in a westerly direction with no shoreline impacts anticipated at this time,” Shell said in a statement.

The bad news for the company is that it will lead for greater calls for no more drilling in the Gulf and for further calls to keep fossils in the ground. It is likley to resurface tensions that have been simmering since the Deepwater Horizon tragedy in 2010.

Community and environmental groups have lined up to condemn the spill and continuing drilling in the region.

Vicky Wyatt, a Greenpeace campaigner argued: “The last thing the Gulf of Mexico needs is another oil spill. The oil and gas industry’s business-as-usual mentality devastates communities, the environment, and our climate … It’s past time to keep it in the ground for good.”

“This latest offshore oil disaster once again demonstrates the inherent dangers of fossil fuels, and the irresponsibility of allowing new oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico even as these spills continue to happen,” said Marc Yaggi, executive director of Waterkeeper Alliance.

Yesterday, Anne Rolfes, the founding director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, which campaigns to end oil drilling in Louisiana, said “What we usually see in oil industry accidents like this is a gross understatement of the amount release and an immediate assurance that everything is under control, even if it’s not.”

“This spill shows why there is a new and vibrant movement in the Gulf of Mexico for no new drilling,” she added.

The Bucket Brigade and others are now calling on President Obama not to open additional leases in the next Five Year Plan for the Gulf of Mexico. The spill will only add to the pressure on the President to say “no new drilling”.


  • I agree that there should not be any oil spills but what is the alternative to oil?

  • The problem is too many regulations. Get rid of regulations and minimum wage and welfare and civil rights and add a rider to the bill to build some new bridges somewhere and there will be no more oil spills.

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