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A salt water pipeline leak offshore from Alabama forced ExxonMobil to halt gas production in the Mobile Bay area of the Gulf of Mexico, company officials said.

There was a sheen on the water Tuesday night, one mile south of Dauphin Island where ExxonMobil runs a number of subsea natural gas pipelines, prompting the company to shut in 280 million cubic feet per day of natural gas production.

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“ExxonMobil can confirm that a subsea pipeline that transports salt water produced from its offshore natural gas wells in the area to its onshore gas treating facility has a leak,” a spokesman said.

The leaking substance consists of silt, sand and salt water, with traces of hydrocarbons, he said.

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Natural gas drillers sometimes pump water into their wells to force out more gas. The injected water and water found deep underground can come up with the natural gas. The leaking pipeline carries the water back to shore for treatment.

ExxonMobil shut down production so it could depressurize its web of pipelines, stopping the leak. The line in question is under the surface in about 15 feet of water, between Fort Gaines and the Sand Island lighthouse.

Exxon is developing plans to repair the pipe and natural gas production will remain shut until they fix the problem. There is no timeline for resumption.

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