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THOUSANDS OF INVISIBLE OIL SPILLS
ARE DESTROYING THE GULF
Florida’s onshore oil drilling industry began 75 years ago
How a 672,000-Gallon Oil Spill Was Nearly Invisible
About 672,000 gallons of oil spilled when a pipeline fractured about a mile below the ocean’s surface this 10.11.2017 in the Gulf of Mexico southeast of Venice, La., which is about 65 miles south of New Orleans.
The company that operates the pipeline, LLOG Exploration, believes the pipe fractured in the early morning hours of Oct. 11, a company spokesman, Rick Fowler, said in an email.
On Oct. 12, LLOG discovered that the amount of oil leaving its wells was different from the amount of oil leaving the company’s floating production system, Delta House, which is in the Gulf of Mexico, about 40 miles southeast of Venice, La.
The small crack in the pipeline has not yet been fixed, Mr. Fowler said, but the wells were shut and the flow through the pipe was stopped. What caused the fracture was unclear. The federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which has regulatory oversight of the offshore energy industry, is investigating.
As a result, the spill has “some environmental impact,” Dr. Overton said, but it doesn’t appear to be measurable or significant. “You have most of the impact when the oil can congregate into a very thick layer.”
“The families of bacteria that can degrade oil already exist in the Gulf,” he said. “So when they see more oil, what happens is those bacteria degrade that oil and start reproducing.”
The bacteria eat the hydrocarbons in the oil and turn it into carbon dioxide or more bacteria, and those bacteria become a food source for other organisms.
An oil spill essentially serves as food for the bacteria, but there are times, like during Deepwater Horizon, when the bacteria are overwhelmed by the volume and cannot work fast enough to break it down.