Tug vessel hits abandoned gas well in Barataria Waterway
by Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Posted on July 27, 2010 at 9:15 AM
Updated today at 5:57 PM
JEFFERSON, La. -- The Coast Guard and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office are maintaining a two mile safety perimeter around a damaged wellhead in the Barataria Waterway south of New Orleans.
A mix of natural gas, contaminated water and light crude oil is spewing 100 feet in the air.
According to the Coast Guard, the tug vessel Pere Ana C while pushing a dredge barge struck the abandoned wellhead around one Tuesday morning.
"The issue for the region right now is we have gas coming out of an uncontrolled well head," said Coast Guard Captain John Arenstam. "We don't want to introduce into the region is an ignition source."
The accident happened halfway between Lafitte and Grand Isle, near the very same water polluted by the BP oil spill.
The well belongs to the now defunct Cedyco Corporation of Houston, Texas. It's one of the many so called "orphaned wells-heads" spread across Barataria Bay.
"This is something that could happen at any time out there," said Jefferson Parish Councilman Elton Lagasse. "There are thousands of these wells just sitting out there, some of them lit, some of them not lit. Just as the Coast Guard says, once they're abandoned, nobody cares about them."
The safety perimeter around the well site prevented some oil spill response vessels from the BP spill from getting back on the water.
"The waterway is shut down," said Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts. "It's going to have some complications for us trying to re-stage assets."
Crews deployed about 6000 feet of oil containment boom on the nearby waterways.
Gov. Bobby Jindal flew over the well site on his way to Grand Isle.
"This well is close to important marshes in Barataria Bay, so its important that the well be cut off as quickly as possible, the oil be contained and cleaned up as quickly as possible," Jindal said.
"We are fortunate to have the resources in place from Deepwater Horizon response and we were able to access those resources quickly," said Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry.
A wild well company was expected to reach the well site Tuesday evening. It is expected to take one to two days to cap the leak.