Crews work to contain oil spill in Gulf after Hurricane Ida's passage

A satellite image shows an oil slick following Hurricane Ida, off Port Fourchon in Louisiana, on Sept 2, 2021. PHOTO: AFP/SATELLITE IMAGE ©2021 MAXAR TECHNOLOGIES

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Workers have deployed containment booms and skimmer devices as they attempt to contain a sizeable oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico discovered after Hurricane Ida roared through the area, the United States Coast Guard said on Sunday (Sept 5).

The spill is in waters off Port Fourchon, Louisiana - near where Ida made landfall - in a region that is a major hub of the US petrochemical industry. An oil slick now extends more than 19km through the warm waters of the Gulf but has yet to reach shore, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The coast guard in Louisiana said it had been informed of a spill in that area and was responding, but provided few details.

Talos Energy, a Texas firm specialising in offshore oil and gas exploration, has dispatched cleanup vessels and divers to the site.

The company, which had operated in the area of the spill until 2017, insisted that its equipment was not the cause of the leak.

The response team "identified a non-Talos owned 12 (inch) pipeline displaced from its original trench location, which appears to be bent and open ended," the company said in a statement.

"Additionally, two non-Talos owned 4 (inch) lines have been identified in the vicinity that are open ended and appear to be previously abandoned." Talos said it is using booms and skimmers to clean up the area.

Packing winds of up to 240kmh, Ida roared through Louisiana last Sunday, causing catastrophic damage, according to the local authorities.

Downgraded later to tropical storm status, Ida nonetheless retained rare power as it rumbled through the US North-east, leaving dozens dead.

It was in the petroleum-rich Gulf of Mexico that, in 2010, an explosion ripped through the Deepwater Horizon oil platform, touching off the worst oil spill in history.

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