The U.S. Coast Guard said 1.1 million gallons of crude oil had leaked into the Gulf of Mexico near an offshore pipeline near Louisiana.
The USCG said an aircrew first spotted the leak on Friday in the area of the 67-mile-long Main Pass Oil Gathering company’s pipeline system.
It’s unclear when the leak began, but officials said the pipeline was shut down early Thursday morning.
“The volume of discharged oil is currently unknown,” officials said Tuesday in an update of Monday's announcement. “Initial engineering calculations indicate potential volume of crude oil that could have been released from the affected pipeline is 1.1 million gallons.”
In a press briefing on Tuesday, the Coast Guard said seven drillers had shut down production in the Gulf in response to the leak with no timetable about when they would resume operations. The names of the companies were not released.
Despite the proximity to the coastal pipeline system, the origin of the leak remains unknown. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Third Coast Midstream Pipeline company reported a pipeline leak on Thursday morning.
“The vehicles will continue to survey the pipeline if weather conditions permit,” the Coast Guard said. “The Unified Command is working diligently to determine the source of the release. There have been no reports of injuries or shoreline impacts at this time.”
Capt. Kelly Denning said Tuesday that harsh weather had hampered the search for the leak’s source.
NOAA emergency operations coordinator Doug Helton told WWL the environmental impact of the spill was the biggest concern.
“There are endangered and threatened species in Louisiana waters. Most of the coastal Louisiana is wetlands and marshes, and that’s typically considered really sensitive to oil,” he said. “Even if this doesn’t make it ashore, it doesn’t mean that this is an incident that we can just ignore. There are a lot of things that live out in the Gulf.”
Several endangered species, including sea turtles and whales, live in the area.
The 2010 explosion and subsequent spill at the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform spilled 134 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico.