Timor Sea Drilling Spill – 1st Relief Attempt Fails

Perth Now reports that the first attempt to shut down the uncontrolled spill of oil and gas from a damaged well on the Montara platform has failed. It’s a highly challenging operation: drillers on a nearby rig that was brought in from Singapore, the West Triton, are attempting to intercept the damaged Montara well at a point more than 8,500′ below the seafloor and pump enough heavy mud into it to stop the flow. It will take up to 4 days to make another pass at the well and try again.

Offshore Drilling: Spillustrations

SkyTruth is getting barraged by requests from people around the country who want to know what could happen if an incident comparable to the Montara / West Atlas oil spill happened off their coast. In response, we’ve generated a series of illustrations that superimpose the area of oil slicks, as shown on satellite images of the Timor Sea disaster, on various parts of the US including:

These illustrations are not predictive spill models – they don’t take into account local winds, currents, shoreline configuration or bathymetry – but they do accurately portray what a Montara-sized oil slick would look like, as shown on some of the satellite images we’ve been collecting and analyzing for that ongoing event.

Illustration showing hypothetical Montara-sized oil spill off the Virginia coast.

The Montara spill is now in its 45th day, as efforts to drill a relief well continue. Using the oil company’s estimate of 400 barrels per day, over 750 thousand gallons of oil have spilled since the blowout on August 21. Using an alternative estimate of 3,000 barrels per day that is based on the actual published flow rates of nearby oil wells, over 5 and a half million gallons may have been spilled so far.