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Coast Guard Says Up to 26,000 Barrels May Have Leaked Into Gulf of Mexico

The U.S. Coast Guard says as much as 1.1 million gallons of oil, approximately 26,000 barrels, may have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico following a pipeline leak on Thursday off the coast of Louisiana. 

The source of the spill from the 67-mile-long underwater pipeline owned by Main Pass Oil Gathering and operated by Third Coast Infrastructure LLC remained unknown at the time of writing on Monday, with the Coast Guard continuing to investigate. 

The pipeline spill was confirmed by Main Pass Oil on Thursday, prompting immediate Coast Guard action. 

As of midday Monday, the spill was said to be moving away from the Louisiana shore, while skimming ships continued to recover surface oil. The Deepwater Horizon spill of 2010 released some 3.19 million barrels, or 134 million gallons, of oil into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. 

The cause of the spill also remains unknown and under investigation. 

A 26,000-barrel spill would be equivalent to the volume of two Olympic-sized swimming pools. 

Prices for Heavy Louisiana Sweet crude oil spiked on Friday as a result of the spill, hitting their highest premium to West Texas Intermediate (WTI) since August 2023, according to Bloomberg.

The spill comes amid upward pressure on Brent crude and WTI that started on Friday and continues on Monday, with Brent crude up 2.69% as of 12:57 ET and WTI up 2.85%.

Between 1969 and 2017, there were 44 oil spills in U.S. waters, with one-third of those in the Gulf of Mexico, according to data from the Oceanography Society, with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill the largest. 

“Large” oil spills are typically defined as those of more that 100,000 barrels. 

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Work is still ongoing to repair the damage done by the Deepwater Horizon spill. 

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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