The new fine comes to add to $3.9 million the company agreed to pay in July 2018, for natural resource damage charges due to the spill. $3.5 million of the fine will be used for natural resource restoration projects, and the rest will repay the agencies’ costs in responding to the spill.
On May 11, 2016, control room operators were warned of acoustic activity in the pipe. However, they believed it was caused by a bubble of natural gas moving through the pipe. The next day, the operators asked workers to check for leaks from equipment. The workers did not see any problems, and called operators to turning off the flow of oil into the pipe.
Nevertheless, a few hours later, a helicopter transporting workers for a crew change on the Glider facility was assigned to look for signs of a leak, and reported that it had spotted an oil spill on the surface.
The oil spill took place because of a series of events over several years that caused the pipeline to be covered with debris, which caused a stress fracture in a joint. That break freed crude oil into the water, BSEE said.
According to the consent agreement, Shell agreed to improve its leak-detection training program for its operations in the Gulf of Mexico.