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Small oil leak as boat hits wellhead off La. coast

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 27, 2013 at 5:36 pm •  Published: February 27, 2013

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A 42-foot crewboat struck a sealed wellhead, releasing oily water into the shallow water of a bay off Plaquemines Parish, the Coast Guard said.

Well control operations would begin Thursday morning, Coast Guard Capt. Peter Gautier, captain of the port for the New Orleans sector, said in a news release Wednesday.

The statement said less than 840 gallons of oil a day is coming from the well owned by Swift Energy Co. of Houston.

Crews began surrounding the wellhead with containment boom Tuesday night, after it was hit, said Swift Energy President Bruce Vincent. By Wednesday morning, he said, it was intermittently burping oily water, probably from a damaged valve.

He said containment boom also was set out along marshland about a mile from the wellhead, and two skimmer boats were at work.

The Coast Guard said the accident occurred in Lake Grande Ecaille Bay, 9 miles southwest of Port Sulphur.

The well was shut in about five years ago as a weak producer and the company planned to plug it this year, Vincent said. Enough natural gas pressure had built up over five years to push out water mixed with a small amount of oil, he said.

"It flows for a while, then stops flowing until it builds up some pressure and flows again," he said.

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