A Manhattan-sized oil spill just hit the Gulf of Mexico

A member of the Indigenous Environmental Network demonstrates against the Shell oil company outside the South African Petroleum Refinery (SAPREF) in Durban November 30, 2011. The city is hosting the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties meeting (COP17).

Royal Dutch Shell spilled an estimated 2,100 barrels of oil off Louisiana’s coast in the Gulf of Mexico this week, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement confirmed
on Thursday. Though officials don’t know what caused the spill just yet, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it’s now contained

That contained spill has left a sheen of oil the size of Manhattan in the Gulf.

For now, drilling activities at Shell’s Brutus platform have been suspended. The platform
, which sits tethered to the sea floor atop 2,900 feet of water, has a maximum capacity of 100,000 barrels of oil per day.


The oil spill occurred 97 miles off Louisiana’s southern coast. BSEE

Still, this spill is tiny in comparison to BP’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, which released a 4-million-barrel gusher of oil
into the Gulf. But Shell’s and BP’s spills aren’t the only ones to hit these waters — according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the area has seen six other large disasters
in last few decades.

Despite the known risks of offshore drilling, the Gulf’s oil activities
are ramping up. Oil and gas production in the Gulf is expected to hit new highs
in 2016 and 2017, despite low crude oil and gas prices. Every time companies punch another drill-sized hole in the sea floor, they risk more harm.

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