A Houston-based oil company has accepted responsibility for a mysterious spill near Grand Isle, although it says it remains “surprised” that what it thought was a minor discharge from a long dormant well could have produced miles-long slicks.
Several hours after The Times-Picayune broke the story that state agents had traced the oil back to a well operated by Anglo-Suisse Offshore Partners, the Houston-based company put out a statement late Tuesday night.
It acknowledged that it was informed by the Coast Guard that it may be responsible for the spill, which has sent emulsified oil onto Louisiana shores yet again.
Anglo-Suisse also accepted responsibility for cleanup, even though the statement also said company officials were surprised by the Coast Guard’s “suggestion” because the well is “non-producing and has been monitored closely for the last six months.”
The well is one the company was plugging for permanent abandonment, in the West Delta Block 117 west-southwest of Southwest Pass.
In three reports to the Coast Guard since Friday, the company had reported that less than 5 gallons of crude had escaped. But state Wildlife and Fisheries agents traced the oil to the Anglo-Suisse well at its Platform E facility on Monday afternoon and found a crew on a boat trying to close in the well with a remotely operated submarine.
The company said it had reconnected the wellhead structure Tuesday morning and fully shut it in by 8:30 p.m.
The company said it was the 12th well it owned in the area to undergo plugging and abandonment operations. All of those wells were shut in after Hurricane Katrina caused damage to platforms and haven’t produced any oil since, the company said. Crews have been monitoring the site since September and didn’t report any oil discharge until the end of last week, the statement said.