Tug, barge strike Texas wellhead; natural gas released

The following is the text of a press release issued by the U.S. Coast Guard:
(PORT ARTHUR, Texas) — Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Port Arthur has responded to a report of a tug and barge that struck an inactive production well-head in Sabine Lake during the early hours of Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008.

The well-head pipe was broken off approximately six feet above the water line and is releasing natural gas, condensate, and water. Although there are no threats to the public onshore, there is a light sheen in the area and the Coast Guard encourages marine traffic to stay clear. Results from an over flight conducted by the Jefferson County Sheriffs Department and Coast Guard indicate no shoreline impacts in either Texas or Louisiana at this time. Initial reports suggest that there was no damage to the tug and barge.

Texas General Land Office, Louisiana Oil Spill Coordination Office, Louisiana State Sheriff, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s scientific support staff, the well owner Ballard Exploration, and the Coast Guard are working together to mitigate the situation and ensure that it is handled in a timely manner.

Containment boom has been placed around the visible sheen and Ballard Exploration has secured the well-head. Ballard Exploration has hired the pollution response contractor, Garner Environmental, to coordinate the recovery efforts. Garner has staged pollution response equipment on scene and is actively recovering the small pockets of oil.

The Coast Guard is conducting an investigation of the incident. For more information, please contact Ensign Kimberly Kaiser with the U.S. Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Unit Port Arthur at 409-723-6589.

By Professional Mariner Staff