One of Royal Dutch Shell’s wells in the Gulf of Mexico sprung a leak.
The leaking rig, located off the coast of Alabama spewed thousands of gallons of synthetic and biodegradable drilling fluid into the Gulf, and is in the same underwater canyon as was BP Plc’s (BP) Deepwater Horizon. Coast guard officials said more than half of the reported leak is oil.
Shell confirmed the loss of 319 barrels of drilling fluids from a booster line, which is separate from the actual well bore but provides additional drilling fluids, according to a statement on its website.
The company decided to temporarily abandon the well in order to make needed repairs. The company does not know the source of the leak.
“Once there were indications of a leak, a source was identified, and at no time were there safety or well control issues,” Shell said in a statement. “The integrity of this well was also not compromised.”
The drilling fluid used in this well, according to information gathered by its manufacturer Rheliant Systems on its company material safety sheet, is a mixture of water, quartz, calcium chloride, silica, calcium hydroxide, alkenes, and crystalline. The fluid could have slight health affects, but may cause irritation in people’s eyes, skin and respiratory tract, as well as cancer.